In this article, I am going to talk about the importance of becoming a little suspicious about one of our ways of being. Remember, when I refer to our ways of being this includes our thinking, feeling, and behaving. Our ways of being become automatic cow paths that are upheld by the primitive mind (Bob).

We need to question our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors if we are to make progress. In this post, I am specifically interested in creating a healthy level of suspicion about our automatic thoughts and I will end this post with two short true/false statements for you to consider.

I cannot think of anything more important than mastering our thinking. As you may recall from the workbooks, our thinking generates feelings, which generate actions. And I am sure you know; our actions create the outcomes in our lives. Our lives are either as we would like them to be or they fall short of our dreams and potential.

We are going to briefly explore how a “stinking thinking” mindset gets in the way of becoming the confident CEO of our lives. Remember, the term “CEO of our lives” simply refers to being in charge of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

As you will recall our intention is to close the GAP between where we are now and where we want to be. I believe that closing the GAP requires many things including honest reflection and a willingness to ask the question “What else is possible for me?”


Original potential-the unique, innate tendencies, preferences, talents, and capacities we are each born with.

Cow paths-are paths of least resistance, automatic conditioned responses absorbed by the primitive mind. Cow paths are seen in beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

CEO-being the CEO of our life ultimately refers to being in charge of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and choosing new beliefs that are aligned with our original potential and goals. Becoming the CEO of our lives means that we consciously, deliberately choose to develop new programs. 

GAP-refers to the space between where we are now and where we would prefer to be in some area of life.   

A.P.O.-refers to becoming absolutely positively obsessed about the creation of something better for ourselves.  


Now, self-awareness, honesty, and personal evaluation are tough things for most of us. We naturally and stubbornly hold on to what we have come to view as “truths” about ourselves. Anytime we make an I am__________ statement, we can be certain that the primitive mind will initially rebuff even good evidence to the contrary.

That is where the work comes in. We must be willing to be a little suspicious about the things we automatically tell ourselves and about the things we believe about ourselves. But that can be hard to do if we are caught in the trap of stinking thinking.


So, what exactly is stinking thinking? How does stinking thinking fit into the idea of becoming a bit suspicious about our ways of being?  Stinking thinking is a path of least resistance, an automatic way of thinking that is easily triggered and has oodles of mind files and anchors.

Stinking thinking is a term often used in the recovery field and one that I use often with my clients whether they have labelled their problem as an addiction, depression, anxiety, a lack of confidence, or just plain feeling stuck in their lives.

When our thinking stinks, we:

  • we generally are negative.
  • expect the worst.
  • do a lot of external blaming.
  • engage in harsh inner self-talk.
  • blow things out of proportion.
  • and overall, just feel helpless and powerless.


Most of us experience some level of stinking thinking when things are not going our way. You have stinking thinking, your spouse does, your employer does, your employees do, your parents do, your friends and neighbors do, and I do too!

But, for some people, stinking thinking is a way of life that sabotages all possible good. These people wake up with a cloud over their heads and go to bed at night physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted. For some, stinking thinking has become a habit of mind that leads to depression and anxiety. If stinking thinking is left alone, it can grow and fester into a victim mindset. So, yes, being a little suspicious about our automatic thoughts can be a good thing.

I am going to offer two simple, but loaded statements for your consideration, and you can decide for yourself whether you are a stinky thinker. If you are, then it begs the question, “What if you were to become a little suspicious about your thinking and A.P.O. managing it better?


Are these statements true or false for you? Be a little suspicious about your automatic response:

1.    I am someone whose thinking automatically leads to consistent productive feelings. T/F?

2.    I am someone whose thinking automatically leads to consistent productive action. T/F?


Terri Lee Cooper MSc. RSW