If you read the 10 Cognitive Thought Distortions in a previous blog, you are hopefully ready to learn what to do about them. And if you reflected and circled the ones you know you most commonly THNK or have running through your mind, you can return to them after you go through the steps that follow.
-Pick something you have been feeling stressed about and call this an “activating event/situation/experience…. here’s an example: My spouse/partner yelled at me today.
-Now write down your negative self talk. In other words what are you telling yourself ABOUT the conversation/argument? Perhaps something like “I’m a failure as a spouse/partner and he/she is going to leave me.”
-Write down the cognitive distortions implicit in your self talk. Ex: exaggerations, jumping to conclusions, magnifying
-Challenge your thinking. Is what you are telling yourself actually true? Do you have data? evidence? factual information to support what you are thinking? Highly unlikely! Facts might be more like — we’ve been married and happy for 10 years
-What would be a more realistic/accurate/truthful statement? Write it and if you need to, keep re-writing until all the exaggerations, confusing conclusions, inflammatory language gets crossed out… Ex I am a good spouse/partner and once in a while we don’t say what we need to say and end up arguing. We are usually able to work through our arguments.
-Keep re-writing until you are confident you have all the TRUTH minus the STUFF that you may find in the 10 thought distortions.
-Go through all the steps and see what distortions are represented.
-To clear your mind of negative self talk a simple process is to look for any words like awful, terrible, always, never, failure, and phrases like I always make a mess of things, nothing ever works out for me, I fail every time I try, No one ever understands me.
When you tell yourself the truth, you still have a problem to deal with, but it is a realistic statement of the problem. THAT lends itself to problem SOLVING. For example “never” can’t really be fixed. However, “sometimes” can be examined and realistically managed.
My recent book: WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? MAYBE NOT THAT MUCH! has multiple examples of the negative thoughts and questions that run through our minds. It teaches you more about the process outlined above. If you think it would help you, it’s available on both Amazon and my website.
Try the suggestions outlined here. If they don’t help enough, consider reading more. Either from my book, or again from Dr. David Burns, the psychologist who wrote Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. And always ask for help when you feel you need it. Feel better! You deserve it!
Listen to Dr. Linda Moore and Mike Manko discuss tech device addiction/denial on the SteveAndMikeRadio.com podcast.