A simple exercise to challenge your negative automatic thinking, and replace with healthy alternative thinking…..
Catch the negative thought: Keep a journal, taking notes of the actual thoughts you are thinking when you’re in a situation that upsets you and ends in self-limiting and self-sabotaging behaviour. Example: ‘It’s going to be awful, I’m going to embarrass myself…’- (and then avoiding an event).
Thought Stopping: As you notice yourself saying these negative automatic thoughts, you can stop them mid-stream by saying to yourself “STOP”. You might also wear a rubber band or elastic bracelet around your wrist, giving it a little twang each time you notice you are allowing negative thinking to take over your head in a never-ending loop. It will make you more aware of how often, and in what situation, you are having the negative thoughts.
Challenge the negative thought: Challenge the thoughts, examine them to see if they’re valid. ‘Where’s the evidence for this? Is there another way to look at it?’. Example: ‘Actually, that’s fortune telling, I don’t actually know what’s going to happen, all I can do is my best, maybe I’ll be a bit anxious, I can cope with that if it happens, and it might not happen, I was okay last week at that other event even though I tortured myself before it with this kind of thinking….’
Summary: pause, reappraise, and reframe!
Note the negative thought – stop it in its tracks – examine it for evidence – and if you decide it is irrational and unhelpful, replace it with alternative healthy thinking – consciously and deliberately. Here is an example:
|Negative Automatic Thoughts||Rational Reframe Replacement|
|Nobody likes me||That’s not a true statement. My family like me, and I have my friend from work and my friend from school. And I got on well with many other people now that I think of it. Also, not everybody will adore and admire me in this life. I accept that. It’s the same for everybody. Also, if somebody does think little of you, you don’t have to agree with it …|
|It’s going to be awful, I’m going to embarrass myself…||Actually, that’s fortune telling, I don’t know what’s going to happen, all I can do is my best, maybe I’ll be a bit anxious, I can cope with that if it happens, and it might not happen, I was okay last week at that other …|
|I can’t cope…||That’s a bit silly. If I ‘couldn’t cope’ I’d drop down dead or burst into flames, yet here I am. It’s more true to say that I have problems coping, and I wish I didn’t have to cope, and that I’m doing my best. Accepting that I can’t cope as true only maximises my discomfort, and if I believe it I’ll avoid things…|
Try it yourself!
Check out the Bad Thinking Habits post to help you to develop keywords to spark associations and change your thinking.
Download this post as a PDF worksheet: CBTAFG_ThoughtForm