Recently I learnt about a concept known as “the traffic light of thoughts.’ It’s a concept taught to children to help them understand their own thoughts, and build their emotional resilience. Red thoughts are supposed to symbolize negative thoughts that are unhelpful to you. Green thoughts are happy thoughts that are helpful to you. This is such a simple concept, but it got me thinking about those situations in life that I feel I have no control over. In these moments, my brain ticks over 100’s of red thoughts, that essentially are explainable. I could understand how these thoughts appear but I could not comprehend as to why.
Then I started thinking about how my personal experiences and how they have truly shaped my thinking style. For example, 2016 was a year of pain, sadness and emptiness for me. I experienced a bad breakup, a loss of all my friends, and having to reconnect with everyone again. That year, I felt as though I was in a recurring cycle of unhappiness. There were uncontrollable situations that hit me, one after the other. I felt as though life was kicking me in the gut, while I was already down. After each experience, I had 100’s of red thoughts that flooded my brain. This soon became a habit. A repetitive cycle of negativity. Thereafter, I found it difficult to think of any green thoughts. Even when faced with situations I could control. I started to view the world through a depressive lens. I was constantly told to just “be positive”, or “think of it as a learning experience”. But at the time I didn’t know how to do it and I got irritated at anyone that tried to show me how. In all honesty, that cycle of negativity became a space of security and comfort.
Entering my 2017, I realized how much damage this was doing to my mental health and well being. So, I started to write down all the red thoughts I had each day. I then forced myself to counter them with green thoughts. For example,
(Redlight) “I just can’t do this”
(Greenlight) “Have a go, if you still can’t, it’s ok. You have strengths in other areas.” This may seem like a tedious exercise, but it helped me tremendously. It is so important to know how to be in-touch with your own thoughts. Self-reflection saved my life. the Traffic Light of Thoughts saved my life. Break it down and watch how you become a stronger person because of it.