SITEs: Types of Negative Thinking (Cognitive Therapy)
WRITING EXERCISE – Steps to HEALTHIER THINKING
Keeping a Thought-Record every day for a few weeks will help to change unhealthy thinking. Once you can spot the NTs quickly, you can start changing them into better alternatives.
#1-6 help to understand the NT, & the last 4 to develop & incorporate better thinking:
1. The SITUATION
Briefly describe a situation you wish you’d handled better – so you can review it later
EXP: “I made a mistake at work. It made me anxious & reminded me of all the other times I messed up”
2. INITIAL THOUGHT
What came to mind first? Probably an automatic thought you’ve had many-many times before (S-H)
EXP: “I feel like a failure. If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me. I can never do anything right”
Identify the cognitive distortion (CD) behind your initial thought. #2 is a combination of Self-labeling & Disqualifying the positives
4. SOURCE of Toxic Beliefs
Trace it back to a person &/or repeated events (family, school, religion….) Try to connect with the fear, sadness & hopelessness
EXP: “I can hear mom or dad saying that I’ll never amount to anything,
I’m a failure, a disappointment, dumb….”
5. CHALLENGE the Thinking
Stand back from the inner drama & list the pros & cons of your thinking. Make sure you see the whole picture:
• Have you learned from similar experiences?
• How do other people handle the same situation?
• What strengths & experience do you also have?
EXP: “I’m way too hard on myself, & get overwhelmed when I try to be perfect. I don’t always succeed, but I do sometimes. People have complimented me on my work”
6. Consider the CONSEQUENCES
What are the short- & long-term results if you continue Negative Thinking? Look at the physical, psychological, professional & emotional ones – some of which may already have happened
EXP: “I’m damaging my self-esteem. If I continue to think like this it’ll effect my relationships & possibly my health. I’ll become exhausted”
☛ 1-6 helps you pay attention to what’s actually going on in your head, & makes you more receptive to corrections. 7-10 focus on CHANGE
7. ALTERNATIVE thinking
Write down realistic alternatives to your negative beliefs. Get help if needed
EXP: “I’m being hard on myself
I’m not a failure. It’s not possible to be perfect!
I don’t have to succeed at everything
My mistakes can become my lessons, not my downfall
I am capable of modifying & changing my NTs
8. POSITIVE belief & affirmations
Write the healthier beliefs you want to grow into. At first you’ll have to act-as-if you believe them.
Keep repeating them every day until they come more naturally.
They need to be tailored to your WIC’s specific beliefs, NOT just a pat-on-the-head statements
EXP: “A mistake is not failure. I am successful in many ways. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, & the wisdom to know the difference.”
NOTE – ACoAs get these 2 positions backwards – then wonder why we ‘fail’. Instead. Instead – we need to do what we can, & NOT what we can’t!
9. ACTION PLAN
What action can you take to support your new thinking? Make a point of going to kinder, smarter people for positive mirroring & encouragement!
EXP: “The next time I make a mistake, I won’t obsess about it. Instead I’ll focus on what I can learn – if anything – & look at my list of past successes. I’ll call a sponsor or good friend for reinforcement
With repetition, notice if you feel slightly better or more optimistic. Appreciate & validate any improvements – no matter how small – by writing them down & the sharing them with a ‘positive’ person. Keep the list with you so you won’t forget them.
This step reinforces the psychological truth that if you change your thinking, your mood & eventually your actions will improve.
NEXT: Parents blaming us