As you may already know, cognitive restructuring, a key component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) refers to changing one’s thoughts on purpose.  Yes, you’ll want to be intentional about your thoughts as this is how you create your life and feel how you want to feel in it.  Allow me to explain.

CBT teaches the following: your thoughts shape your emotions; your emotions shape your actions and therefore your situations.  These are all interrelated and don’t necessarily follow that order.  However, one of the easiest ways to change cycles and patterns is by looking at your thoughts and how these are affecting your life.  That’s how multiple people can be in the same situation, yet experience these differently from each other.  Even the same person can have a similar situation as before, for example, but with a rather different set of thoughts about it the second time around, and thus, feel differently from the first time.  Different thoughts equal different emotions.

Imagine that you feel hungry and are eager to savor your favorite pizza.  You enter the pizza place and notice a group of people sitting together at a table; they look up at you, and simultaneously burst into laughter.  Initially, you think they are laughing at you and you feel embarrassed.  You think about the times you were teased or bullied at school and how powerless and alone you felt.  You feel scared. You wonder where you can hide now.  You think they are being mean and horrible for “making you their victim.”  You then feel angry.  You stop receiving your body’s hunger cues. Perhaps this affects you so much that you leave without buying let alone enjoying your pizza.  The rest of your day is completely ruined.

Now, imagine that we can rewind this story to its start again.  So you feel hungry and are eager to savor your favorite pizza.  You enter the pizza place and notice a group of people sitting together at a table; they look up at you and simultaneously burst into laughter.  You think they must have cracked a joke right when you were walking in and that it’s great for people to connect and laugh over a delicious meal.  At which point, your eagerness for that yummy pizza only increases.  Perhaps you even feel a sense of love and connection simply by witnessing what you thought was pleasant camaraderie.

I just guided you through the same scenario with 2 different outcomes resulting from 2 different sets of thoughts.  Even though different things such as your history can influence your thoughts, you can start by setting the intention that you want to feel better.  From that vantage point, you can notice how different thoughts affect your emotions.  A thought pattern is created after you continue to choose certain types of thoughts, which can greatly affect your mood.  Moods can in turn also develop patterns.

And although thought patterns and mood patterns don’t change overnight, you can shift these a thought at a time.

This is very empowering information because the more you know and apply this as you develop more intentional thinking, the more you can feel how you want to feel and live as you want to live.

A practical exercise when you’re ready…


Acknowledge the power of your mind.

If you need “proof,” you may want to read up on research about it (or simply try if it feels good to do so).

Make sure you prioritize your well-being.

This means you’ll care more about feeling good than about “looking good,” pleasing others, “rebelling” or “being right.”

Take responsibility for your own well-being.

This means you’ll hold yourself accountable for your thoughts, emotions, and actions, for your contribution to your situations vs seeing “other” as the problem or problem culprit.
Find a way to record the following:

Notice when you feel good.

Write down the emotion and where it is on a scale 1-10 (the higher, the “better”).

Notice what thoughts contributed.

This may take some slowing down.

Think more of the thoughts that contribute to your desired feelings.

Examples:  I am learning.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  I am having fun.

Notice when you feel less good.

Write down the emotion and where it is on the same scale

Notice what thoughts contributed.

This is just for awareness so try not to go into the details and analyze too much.

Think more of the thoughts that contribute to your desired feelings.

Examples:  I am learning.  It’s okay to make mistakes.  I am having fun.

Here’s a user-friendly formula walk-through:


Imagine a challenging topic for you. Breathe in deeply and slowly. Breathe out even more slowly. You have already identified the thoughts (related to the challenging topic) that don’t feel good to you. Make a list of these thoughts. If at the moment you can stay on that subject without being completely overwhelmed, stay there, and use the “negative-thoughts” list to create a “positive-thoughts” list as you think of “opposite” thoughts that help you feel some relief (i.e. I am worthy and this will somehow work out. I don’t need to figure this all out now. I am okay.).

If this shift is too difficult, that’s perfectly okay. Your feelings are just letting you know where you are. You find a way to make peace with the “negative” thoughts. Breathing is very helpful in this process. Positive affirmations that you believe are very important here (i.e. Even though I am having a tough time with “X,” I choose to deeply and completely love, honor and accept myself.). Finding the potential benefit of and maybe even feeling grateful for the “negative thoughts and/or emotions” can be ground-breaking too (i.e. Thank you fear and/or fearful thoughts as you have been trying to keep me safe in situations similar to past situations where I have felt hurt).

Thought by thought, you continue moving up in your feelings. If, however, the challenging topic leads you to so much current frustration that you would just rather change the topic for now, then do that. You are taking your own emotional cues as feedback as to what direction, speed, and intensity to go in. Because your priority is to feel good, you choose to think of light and easy thoughts on a different topic. Notice how you guide yourself in gradually feeling better (you may use the same scale as before). As long as you feel at a 5 or more, you can have fun sporadically revisiting the challenging subject to shift the thoughts around it and “master” more subjects. You are at peace with more and more situations. Meaning, you practice better-feeling thoughts and feel better more of the time even during periods where you are in the middle of a challenge because you know how to walk/talk yourself through more and more topics. This too is a thought that the more you practice, becomes a belief. It gets easier and easier for you to think thoughts that help you feel how you want to feel. The rest will follow.

At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, I tell you, “have fun with it.”  If you would like extra support and guidance with this process, please reach out to me (Nadeshda) or my partner (Amanda) or another professional.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nadeshda Hernandez

Author Nadeshda Hernandez

MBA, MA, LMFT, CHt, EFT/TFT practitioner

More Blogs by this Author
Law of Attraction Coaching
Private Clinical Supervisor Allow Your Well-being Group Practice, LLC, CEO Love the Yoni (sex-positive board game) Creator, CEO 909-241-8790

More posts by Nadeshda Hernandez