Hi guys! As promised, today’s post is on challenging your negative thoughts. Negative thoughts can be difficult to recognise and acknowledge, as a lot of the time they are happening sub consciously. Meaning, we don’t even know we are doing it. Check out my previous post on “Identifying your negative thoughts”, if you would like to learn more on this.
If you start to pay close enough attention, by being aware of them, you can begin to notice them. Irrational negative thoughts can often lead to depression, poor self-esteem, and anxiety. Irrational means that there is no proof or evidence to support your negative thought, but yet, you think and believe it anyway. For example, someone who regularly receives positive feedback at work, might continue to feel that they are horrible at their job, because of one criticism they got in the past. This irrational thought about their job performance, will dictate how they feel about themselves.
Challenging these irrational thoughts can help us to change them, thereby improving your self-esteem, self-worth, thoughts pattern and improving how you feel. Prompting you to challenge your negative thoughts are a set of questions, set out below. Each question is designed to lead you to look at your negative thoughts more objectively.
Answer the following questions to assess your thought:
- What is my Negative thought?
- Can I prove that my thought is true?
- Is my thought flexible or rigid?
- Am I attempting to interpret this situation without all the evidence?
- How am I likely to feel and act if I continue to think in this way?
- What would I say to a friend, who was thinking in this way?
- What evidence can I find against my thought?
- If I look at this situation positively, how is it different?
- How would thinking in a more flexible way help me?
- What is my healthy new thought?
Today, try out the above questions to challenge your negative thoughts. The purpose of these questions, are to prompt you to take a step back and consider your situation and thoughts from a new perspective, such as that from a friend. This is a very popular exercise used on people suffering depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or negative thinking across counselling services in Ireland.
If you enjoyed this exercise and found it helpful, it might be a good idea for you to explore into the counselling approach, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). As the above exercise is a CBT technique. If you would like more CBT techniques, please comment below or email me privately on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niamh xx Psychotherapist