Do You Know How To “Change the Channel”? A Valuable Mood Changer!

JOHN J. STATHAS, Ph.D., LMFT

Recently I met with a client that I did some counseling with a number of years ago.  He had some issues with anger and often used drugs and alcohol to assuage the pain underneath that anger.  He improved greatly.  The reason for this recent visit was that he had fallen in love with a woman and wanted to be sure that this marriage would work, especially since an earlier one failed.  It failed for a number of reasons, starting with his ex wasn’t a good “fit” for him.

When he came to see me this time he mentioned one of the unique tools that he got from our previous sessions was the ability to “change the channel”.  He said it has helped him immensely to cope with frustrating and hurtful situations.

“Changing the channel” is a method that I use personally and invite my clients to do.  A little information here is necessary.  The brain works like this: a thought comes to mind; the thought elicits an emotion, the emotion is the energy for the consequent behavior. Thus what we think about, focus on, leads us down a path of positive or negative emotions, and then positive or negative behaviors. All of which then leads to positive or negative outcomes and consequences.

So, if your thought is the trigger mechanism that sets forth this chain of events, it, therefore, behooves you to be careful about what you think about.  By becoming more attuned, becoming more conscious of what is going on in your mind, you then can take some control of what you think-feel-do.

“Changing the channel” is about changing the thought that is in your mind.  “Changing the channel” is about getting rid of negative thoughts – past or present.  The neurological pathway of the brain thickens, gets stronger, when you pay attention to a thought.  When you stop paying attention to a thought it weakens, withers.  Thus, the thoughts you focus on move you toward a more positive or negative way of thinking – and then feeling and acting.

An example here might help:

Perhaps a person in your past has hurt you deeply.  When you think about that person, events that caused you pain come to mind.  This then is followed by the negative emotion of fear, hurt, or anger.  These emotions then affect your stress level and ultimately your immune system – weakening you in a number of ways.  When you use the “change the channel” technique, whenever you think about that person or the events that hurt you, you switch your thought to something else.

A wise person seeks out tools and techniques that help that person think positive thoughts, feel good, and “do the next right thing” (positive). I believe this “change the channel technique is a worthy addition to good mental health and creating new brain cells so that you can continue living well and long.  Give it a try I think you will find it freeing and stress reducing!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”  Socrates

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