In Part One of the article I spoke about how we often sabotage our own mental well-being. Doing this is mentally draining and you should not let self criticism become a habit.
To help you curb this bad habit I have a Three-Step Process to change negative thoughts for you to follow:
Recognise faulty thinking and irrational beliefs
This goes against our innate desire for happiness and survival, yet we still do it!
The fact is, your beliefs dictate your thoughts and actions…so recognizing your faulty, irrational beliefs is a starting point for change.
Do you recognize any of these common irrational thoughts?
– I must be loved and approved of by everyone
– It’s awful when things don’t go my way
– It’s easier to avoid problems than confront them
– The world should be a fair place and I should be treated fairly
– I must be competent, adequate and achieving in every respect
– I should always do a perfect job
– I should be a perfect parent.
When you have one of these kinds of beliefs, it becomes a rule that you live by, and judge yourself against.
Step 1 – Logically disputing negative thoughts
Observe yourself this week and write down any negative thoughts that you notice, and what triggered those thoughts.
Do this without judgement.
Here’s where the Socratic questioning comes in.
The aim is to dispute your negative thoughts with logic, in the hope that you might change your perception and understanding of things, and hopefully, to change your belief.
Step 2 – Taking charge
For each negative thought you notice, write down your answers to one or more of these questions:
– What’s a logical, unemotional and more balanced way of looking at this?
– How would I think and behave if I knew this belief wasn’t true?
– What would I say to a friend who felt like this?
– How does this thinking pattern affect my self-esteem, relationships and happiness?
Taking charge of your negative thoughts means consciously choosing a different way of thinking. The more practice you get with this, the easier and more natural – more habitual – it becomes.
Swap the negative thoughts for more helpful things:
– Identify better, more positive solutions/reations/thoughts
– Define your boundaries are and stick by them
– Plan effectively
– Think about what you want, and why that’s important to you
– Identify clear goals and plans that will help you change
– Use affirmations, music or other tools to help you shift your focus to the positive.
Step 3 – Take action
For each negative thought, label, comparison or reaction you have challenged in Step 2, decide how you will think, act and respond instead, to either prevent or avoid the negatives.
It takes time to make change, but you can do it by setting aside an hour or two each week, and following this three step process to learn how to think logically and more positively.
Connect with Expert Melanie White