Challenging Negative Thoughts
A big part of psychological treatment is helping you to get rid of negative thoughts that are wrong or unhelpful. The aim isn’t to be unrealistic – quite the opposite. The assumption is that if you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or another emotional condition, you’re not interpreting things accurately. By being accurate in your thinking, your emotions will come under control too. It’s not easy, but these questions can help. These questions, and similar questions, have been used by thousands of psychologists around the world. See if they help you. Don’t be put off if you can’t see how they work, there is a reason that people see psychologists – you’re trying to be clear-headed and objective about your thinking, and that’s not easy. It’s a skill that can be learned.
1. Is there an alternative explanation that I’m ignoring?
2. Am I jumping to conclusions without looking at all the facts?
3. Am I confusing a thought with a fact?
4. Am I assuming I know what other people are thinking?
5. Is my thinking extreme? Black and white terms?
6. Am I using extreme words (e.g. always, never, must, etc.)?
7. Do I have unrealistic standards for myself? Other people? The world?
8. Am I focusing on irrelevant facts, or forgetting important facts?
9. Am I focusing on my weaknesses and forgetting my strengths?
10. Am I over-estimating my responsibility for the way things work out?
11. What if it happens? What will be so bad about that?
12. What will it matter in 5 years time? Will I even remember it?
13. Am I over-estimating the probability of an event occurring?
14. How would someone else think about this situation?
15. Am I asking myself questions that have no answers?