Colorado Life Coach: 12 Messed up thoughts and 3 steps back to reality!

Did you know that 2 people can go through the exact same situation, and have totally different outcomes?

Why does one person handle tragedy more effectively than another?

If both people are capable and bright, what would make the difference?

The way they think.

We all have automatic thoughts. They just happen to us. We’re just minding our own business, and all of a sudden we have a thought. Most people don’t realize they have any control over what they think. I mean, if it just pops into your brain, what can you do about it, right?

Turns out, a lot!

When we experience an upsetting event, we can have distorted thoughts. They are not an indication of lack of intelligence, they are just learned habits. They come in several forms. See if you identify with these:

1. Focus on what went wrong, and ignore aspects of life that are enjoyable.

2. Assume you know what others are thinking, jump to conclusions, or think bad things will certainly happen.

3. Catastrophizing: What if this awful thing happens? What if I can’t recover?

4. All-or-Nothing Thinking. I’m completely competent or I am incompetent. I handled that perfectly or horribly.

5. Shoulds: It’s not fair. It shouldn’t have happened to me. I should be over this by now. I must be absolutely sure nothing can go wrong before I risk again.

6. Thinking your feelings are reality. I feel so anxious, I must be in danger.

7. Overgeneralizing: All men let you down. Everything in life is unfair. I can’t do anything right. My whole life stinks.

8. Abusive labeling: I’m a loser. I’m worthless. I’m a coward.

9. Personalizing: Why was I singled out? They are out to get me. It must have been my fault. I must have deserved it.

10. Blaming: He makes me so… She ruined my life. I’m stressed out because of_____(my dog, my wife, my horrible childhood, your incompetence, etc).

11. Poor comparisons: Susan is a doctor and I’m just a mom. Sure she doesn’t spend any time with her kids, and my kids are great, but look what she does with her life!

12. Regrets: If only I hadn’t… I deserve to be punished for that.

So how do you change your thinking?

Next time you feel yourself getting upset do 3 things:

First: Briefly describe the upsetting event and how you feel. Rate the intensity of the feelings on a scale of 1-10.

Second: Analyze your thoughts. Look at the list above, and see which distorted thoughts are in play. Rate how intensely you believe them.

Third: Challenge the distortions. Talk back to your thoughts! Change the distortions to more reasonable thoughts: Yes this is difficult, but it’s just a trigger. I can stand it, even if I don’t like it. All I can do is my best. It would be nice to be over this by now, but everyone’s time table is different. I was out of control and powerless then, but this is a different situation. I’ve learned from mistakes in the past, and I can do so again.

You were created to control your mind, not have your mind control you. This is a tool that can be used to help you change your thinking, move through problems and find success!

Taken from: The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook, A guide to healing, recovery and growth, by Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.



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