If you read my first blog post, you will know I have been stuck in a bit of an emotional “rut” over the past year. I was struggling to get myself out of the sadness that I was feeling. I have been working very hard at healing and moving forward. However, one thing that I find still throws me off is my inability to change my mood once I become stressed or sad. I see this trait in my 7 year old son as well. If one little thing upsets him and he gets angry it can literally be hours before he is fully calmed down and starting to smile again. For me, this can even take days!
So the last session that I had with my therapist, I asked her for tips or tricks to be able to “flip the switch” when this happens to me so that I can stop those negative thoughts in their tracks. The key to doing this is to learn to identify your irrational or emotional negative thoughts when they occur and replace them with rational thoughts instead.
How to get started:
Initially when you are learning this technique I recommend writing it down (eventually you should be able to do this quickly in your head). Sometimes just seeing on paper our irrational thoughts means that we finally recognize them for what they really are! And if you are like me, writing things down can also help to organize your thoughts properly.
Work through these questions before you get upset!
Describe the situation that is causing you anxiety
Ask yourself what is the worst possible outcome from this situation? What is the best possible outcome? What is a likely outcome?
If the worst possible outcome comes true will it matter in a week from now? A month from now? A year from now?
Using your worst outcome and likely outcome from above, describe your rational thought and your irrational thought.
Usually the “worst possible” outcome is not the most likely, so we have been stressed or upset over a situation that is very unlikely to happen. This technique also gives you the opportunity to plan what you might do if the worst possible outcome does occur. If it is something that will matter in the future, then you can make plans now on how you will deal with it. This often helps to reduce anxiety when we have a plan we can put into action.
Using my current situation as an example:
I often found myself after my break up feeling like I would be alone forever, that I would never find someone to treat me well, to love me, that I was maybe not worthy of being loved and respected the way I needed. This is negative talk, and this is not helpful to healing. When I laid it out my feelings on paper it looked like this:
Being single again with 4 children at age 38
Worst possible outcome is that I will be single for the rest of my life, and I will feel lonely forever. Best possible outcome is that I will meet someone who's values are similar to mine, someone that truly loves me for who I am, and treats me and my children with respect. A likely outcome is that I date more people, which may or may not workout.
If I do end up single forever there is a good chance that I will not feel as lonely as I do now. It will still feel the same in a week, or even a month from now. But down the road chances are I will adjust and start to feel happier even as a single person.
My worst outcome is very irrational. My rational side knows that at 38 years old I still have a lot of my life left to live, so chances are I will eventually meet someone that I connect with. That there is probably someone out there that is looking for just what I am looking for.
In Conclusion: you are in control of your thoughts and your emotions
You may not be able to control the things that happen to you in life but you can control how you react to them! You are ultimately in control of your thoughts, and this is the key to keeping a positive mindset and true happiness. It is normal to have negative thoughts, however these thoughts do not serve us. We need to learn how to identify when we are having these types of thoughts and learn how to correct them before they get to cause anxiety, stress, or depression.
Next up on my emotional growth to do list:
Learn to envision the future I want and manifest it into reality!
"I am worthy of love, of respect, and of someone who will treat me with the same."
Please tell me below any tips or trick that have really helped you!