Thursday, July 15, 2010

Those Pesky Thinking Errors - Part III

Have you been able to identify your most common thinking errors? Lots of readers have reported that now they can name their thinking errors, but aren't sure what to do with them. 
The first step to more realistic and rational thinking is to identify and lable the initial errant thought. So if you have practiced doing that, you are prepared for the next step which is to challenge that negative irrational thought and substitute it with something more positive.  We saw an example of that in the last blog (June 23, 2010-example 2), but let's practice some more. 

An easy formula to remember is  "ABCDE" (developed by David Wexler, Ph.D., The Prism Workbook: A Program for Innovative Self Management), which looks like this:

A = Event
B = Self Talk  (ususally negative - involves a thinking error)
C = Feelings and Behaviors
D = New Self Talk
E New Feelings and Behavior

Here's an example:

A: (Event)- Husband comes home from work and turns on the TV (again!)
B: (Old Self Talk) -"Here we go again, I wanted to go for a walk tonight. I guess this is how my life is going to be--stuck in the house with a boring, lazy man."
C: (Feelings and Behaviors) - Feeling depressed, mopey, angry, watching TV with him when you don't want to,feel like giving  up.
**********************STOP RIGHT HERE!********************
Now go back to B and identify your thinking error(s) and your negative self talk (fortune telling, jumping to conclusions, black and white thinking...).
Stop these thoughts in order to bypass C and go straight to D.
The new feelings that result (E) will likely be more positive.  You may still  have some concerns, but you realize that you cannot control your husband's behavior and you do have a choice as to how you spend your evening.

D: (new self talk) - "He may want to watch TV tonight and that's his choice. I think I'll go for walk by myself and then go get ice cream. If he wants to join me, he's more than welcome."
E: (New feelings and behavior) - Feeling energized, motivated, using your choices and options and feeling less resentful because you are not letting his choice control your choice.

Another Example:

A:  Overeating one evening after being particularly good sticking to your dietary plan.
B:   "I am so stupid--I'll always be fat so why even try. All those days of being good were for nothing."  (minimizing, all or nothing, blaming, down-putting...).
C: Overeating some more, feeling depressed,feeling sluggish and bloated.   (STOP!)

D: "Opps...well, I'll allow myself this one. It's OK. I'll get back to my program right now--one slip up in 7 days doesn't mean I'm on a downward spiral. I'm proud of myself for the seven days of effort that I've had."
E: Feeling OK, forgiving of self, learning from "mistake", moving on with confidence, knowing you are capable and strong, more likely to realize your goal.

Our days are full of "events"...most of the time, just small ones--brushing teeth, eating lunch, answering a phone call, driving our car, having a basic conversation, etc...but the meaning and the thoughts we attach to these events lead to the way we feel and the way we act.  Any event large or small and how we preceive it can determine our daily and subsequently long term behavior.  If you find yourself feeling depressed, anxious, angry or in any mood that is self destructive, pay attention to your negative thoughts and self talk and see if there is a more realistic, evidenced based way to refute them!

1 comment:

  1. I like these examples because I have experienced some of those thoughts in both of those scenario's. It was good to read alternative ways to handle those emotions.

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