Ask yourself these two key questions
Firstly, “How likely is it that something will happen?” Really think about it, if it’s not likely then give yourself permission to let the thought or worry go.
If it is likely, ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Try to think rationally and evaluate your answer. If the worst-case scenario really isn’t that bad, allow yourself to be free of your negative beliefs or ways of thinking.
Think about your future self
If something did happen, try to think about your future self. “Will it affect you in so many months or years’ time?”
When things don’t go to plan, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and worry in the immediacy of the situation. But by stepping back and putting this moment into context, you may be able to help yourself cope in the here and now.
Weigh up the evidence
The way we feel isn’t necessarily how everyone else thinks or feels about a situation. For example, if you’re off sick from work, you might assume that people are talking about you or judging you. But do you have any evidence to support this?
Try to challenge your assumptions by looking at, and weighing up the evidence. Even though you initially think a certain way, perhaps this isn’t the case. In reality, you might have received a message from a concerned colleague or learn to realise that everyone is busy and not concerned with passing judgement.
Evaluate the costs versus benefits of negative thoughts
Call your thoughts and beliefs into question and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages. Note them down if this helps. Overall, ask yourself: “Is it worth it?” Perhaps your thoughts and beliefs are making you feel tired, upset or more worried. Acknowledging this may help you to change negative ways of thinking.
These are just some of the techniques that may be used in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a therapy designed to help you change negative patterns in how you think, feel and behave.
If you are having negative thoughts, it’s important to speak to your GP. They can refer you for further help and support, or you may be able to refer yourself.