Managing Your Thought Patterns – Part 2
Last week we looked at cognitive reframing and how it can improve our lives and thinking.
In this article, we will examine two techniques that can help you think differently about challenging situations.
The first technique we are going to look at today is the questioning technique.
This is where you challenge irrational, illogical, or harmful thinking patterns.
The basic outline for this technique is to ask the following questions:
- Is this thought realistic?
- -Am I basing my thoughts on facts or feelings?
- What is the evidence for this thought?
- Could I be misinterpreting the evidence?
- Am I remembering this as a bad thing because of what happened last time?
- Am I viewing the situation as black and white when it’s more complicated?
The first step is to identify your thoughts that need to be questioned. Think of a specific thought that you suspect is destructive or irrational, especially one that pops into your head quite a lot.
Next, consider the evidence for and against this thought. What evidence exists that this thought is accurate and a true picture of reality? Once you have identified the evidence, you can make a judgment on this thought. Determine whether it is based on the facts or your feelings and previous fears. Weigh the evidence for the thought and the evidence against the thought, and decide whether it is more likely to be accurate or false.
The second method is the “What if?” technique, which asks, “what is the worst that can happen?” We basically follow a scenario through to the end. We often suffer from assumptions about the worst possible outcome. We need to examine if it’s even likely and, if it does happen, if will it really ruin our whole lives? De-catastrophising (or asking “what if?”) will help you determine what is actually likely, reduce any irrational anxiety, and reassure you that even the worst-case scenario has manageable solutions.
The takeaway from these articles is to know that how we think about and react to challenging situations is not fixed. We don’t need to remain prisoners of our own rushed, negative assumptions about life circumstances. There is hope for the future if we are willing to commit ourselves to work to see a change in these destructive thoughts and beliefs.