That fleeting thought…
Just because a thought comes into your mind does not mean it is valid or true. Remember, automatic thoughts are those that pop up quickly and are often fleeting. Since these thoughts are often the spark that sets everything else on fire, we need to determine how valid they are. The best way to do this is to challenge the thought. Ask yourself…Is that true? Will it be that bad? What evidence do I have to support that? What evidence do I have to deny that? By being more aware of your automatic thoughts, you begin to have the opportunity to challenge the messages they are trying to send.
Example: I walk into a class reunion and I see some people notice me and begin to whisper to each other. My automatic thought is that they are whispering about me and how I look. I start to wish I never came.
Let’s challenge that automatic thought. Do I have any evidence that they even noticed me? Do I have any evidence that if they did notice me that they are whispering about me? If they are whispering about me, what evidence do I have that they are saying bad things?
My answers to these challenging questions will determine how I will respond at this reunion. I can choose to believe those negative thoughts and then have a miserable time at the reunion. Perhaps I would spend my time sulking or maybe even start a fight with those who I thought were talking about me. If I challenge those thoughts and decide I do not know what they were saying and most likely it has nothing to do with me, then I can also choose to enjoy myself at the reunion.
We have these moments all the time. We are faced with negative thoughts and need to confront them all the time. It may seem like it would take forever to challenge these thoughts, but it happens so much faster than you realize.
Start challenging your negative thoughts and see how it changes your life.
Change. Discover. Transform.
Carla Carter, Ed.D., LCPC, CMPC, EMDR Certified