Thinking About Our Thinking
It’s the time of year when we’re getting all sorts of schemes and regimes in our feeds: you might have already tried a new diet, bootcamp or some other change—only to find that you slip back into old habits.
The good news is that you’re normal! Sheer willpower can help us make change, but won’t sustain us long term.
That’s why Feelgood February is a challenge with a twist: it’s not about changing our behaviour, it’s about changing our mind. That way, we can set ourselves up for the year ahead.
We’re going to kick off by spending the next week ‘thinking about our thinking’. It’ll be a chance to reflect on what thought patterns might be holding us back, and how we can make our heads a more positive place to be.
What’s in a thought?
If you hear a loud racket in the middle of the night, would your first thought be:
1. Someone’s on the property!
2. The neighbours are deliberately being loud AGAIN.
3. It’s just the cat outside.
If you think it’s an intruder, you’ll feel fearful and your body will be ready for a fight. If you think it’s the neigbours, you ‘ll feel angry and might even yell out the window. If you assume it’s the cat, you’ll feel calm and go back to sleep.
Our thoughts feel like facts. But two people can have the same experience and see it in very different ways—depending on our past experiences, our backgrounds, motivations and the thought patterns we’ve developed.
In turn, those thoughts drive our feelings. So its helpful to look at whether our thoughts are helping or hindering us.
Reflection: Thinking Traps
Most of us have some unhelpful thought patterns – can you recognise any of these in your life?
Black and white thinking: For example, if you make one mistake, the whole thing is ruined.
Thinking the worst: Sometimes called ‘catastrophising’ – jumping to the worst case scenario.
Looking through tinted glasses: Listening to our feelings more than the facts. Allowing our feelings to cloud our thinking.
Filtering for the negative: Focusing only on the negative parts of situations and ignoring anything positive.
Fortune telling: Predicting how things will turn out in the future as if it’s a fact.
Harsh judgement: Being self-critical and much quicker to judge yourself than you would anyone else.
Mind reading: Believing that you know what a person thinks when you haven’t actually asked them.
Setting high standards: Having high expectations of yourself and other people.
Taking things personally: For example, thinking someone else’s behaviour is about you. Mostly thinking in negative ways towards yourself and others.
Doubting your ability: Doubting or questioning your ability to cope.
Feelgood Weekly Challenge: Think About Your Thinking
We all have insecurities, worries and struggles. What is something that has been bothering you, causing you stress or making you feel bad? This is a great chance to ‘think about your thinking’.
Jot down these steps, or you can print a worksheet here by signing up to Just a Thought.
Step 1: Identify
Ask yourself: What am I worried about?
Choose one thought to focus on that causes you a lot of anxiety:
Step 2: Challenge
Test your thought by looking at the facts and evidence. Is your thought true and based on facts? See if you can spot any unhelpful thinking styles.
Write down the facts, and any unhelpful thinking styles that are causing anxiety: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Step 3: Change
Replace your worry with thoughts that are more helpful to you and based on facts. Ask yourself: “What is most likely to happen”, not “What am I afraid will happen?”
Write your new thought here:
BE IN TO WIN
Comment on our Feelgood February posts throughout the week (1-5 Feb 2021) and share a positive thought that you are bringing into the year ahead. You'll be in win a Feelgood Care Package!