Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mind Over Matter

Stress occurs when we perceive something as threatening and believe we don't have what it takes to cope with it. We can change how we respond to stress by changing these perceptions or beliefs. There are typical patterns of "stressed" thinking that people get stuck in.

  • All-or-Nothing
  • Catastrophic Thinking
  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Discounting the Positive
  • Mind Reading

Avoid Negative Thinking

The first step to changing how we are thinking about stress is to pay attention to our stressful thoughts and see if we are falling into any pitfalls of negative thinking.

It is important to remember that the goal of challenging negative thinking isn't to simply replace our negative thoughts with positive ones. That would be unrealistic since the positive thoughts would not be believable to us. Instead, the goal is to think in a more balanced and rational way so that we feel more balanced. Challenging negative thinking requires us to try to come up with a more balanced view that is believable.

Sometimes simply noticing that we are engaging in negative thinking is enough to help us thinking more clearly. At other times, we need to spend more time actually challenging these negative thinking patterns. We can do this by simply writing down our negative thoughts and then trying to come up with evidence for why they aren't true. Sometimes we might even need to check out the facts with someone else because, particularly with mind reading, getting more information can often help change how we feel about a situation.

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