Below I have listed a set of questions we can ask ourselves when we are worried and anxious. The questions are intended to help us CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS; this technique derives from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): QUESTIONS WE CAN ASK OURSELVES WHICH HELP US TO CHALLENGE OUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS:
1) What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is true?
What evidence is there that the negative thought I am having is not true?
2) Is the negative thought a fact-based on rational and logical thinking?
Or is it influenced (distorted) by the way I am feeling (ie based upon EMOTIONAL REASONING rather than on rational thinking)?
3) Is constantly focusing on this negative thought helping me to move forward in my life? Or is focusing on the negative thought causing me unnecessary distress, hindering me and holding me back, preventing me from making a valuable contribution in life?
4) Is there a more positive way I can interpret events? Is there another perspective I can take/ Can I apply ‘out of the box’ thinking?
5) If a close friend was in the same situation, what advice and help would I give him/her? Can I apply the same sensitivity, compassion, and understanding I’d show to a friend to myself? If not, why not? Am I treating myself unfairly?
6) What is the worst outcome of the situation in which I find myself? Am I overestimating the probability of the worst happening? If the worst does happen, am I underestimating my ability to cope with such an outcome?
7) Can I change my mindset from viewing this situation as a problem to viewing it as a challenge? Which of these two approaches is likely to be of most benefit to me?
It is possible, of course, for us to write these questions down and remind ourselves of them when we feel particularly anxious; we can even carry them around with us if we feel so inclined! Sometimes, a simple shift of perspective can have a very liberating effect.
David Hosier BScHons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).