Love Life Again!

Taking control over your anxiety

WEEK 5

This week we will cover

  • Thinking Errors
  • Challenging Automatic Thoughts
  • Rational Responses

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PREVIOUS PROGRAM CALLS WEEK 5

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Homework
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Thinking Errors
One of the things that are really important for us to remember is that although we are going to talk about “thinking errors” and we will be challenging our “automatic thoughts”, this isn’t about telling you that you are wrong. You are the only one who can change the thoughts going through your head and if you choose to continue to rationalize your thoughts, things will not change. But these thoughts are not “wrong” as much as “they are not helpful to you”. If it wasn’t a problem, then you wouldn’t be thinking that it was a problem in your life in the first place.

When we look more closely at automatic thoughts, you can actually see the critical errors in our logic – or in this case – thinking errors. They generally fall into 3 categories:

  1. Overestimating the likelihood of a negative outcome
  2. Catastrophizing – exaggerating how terrible or negative something will be
  3. Maladaptive thinking – Engaging in thoughts that are simply unhelpful

Overestimating – a person takes an unlikely negative outcome and assumes that it is likely or guaranteed that it will happen.

Catastrophizing – someone assumes the worst possible outcome is going to happen or the worst possible meaning is true.

Maladaptive thinking – this is not actually thinking errors, because the thoughts aren’t actually untrue or unlikely. These are thoughts that are technically correct but are not helpful and only make you more anxious.

This is the beginning of Cognitive Restructuring. You will learn to question the accuracy of your thoughts and develop a set of more accurate or neutral interpretations of anxiety-provoking situations.

This may help you in two ways.

  1. It may allow you to plan for upcoming events or situations that are expected to be anxiety-provoking.
  2. With practice, logically analyzing challenging thoughts may become as automatic as the automatic thoughts.

Challenging Automatic Thoughts
Once we’ve identified the thinking errors in the automatic thought, the next step is to question the accuracy, truthfulness or usefulness of the thought.

The key to using disputing questions effectively is to both “ask” and “fully answer” a disputing question. The answer to the disputing question may seem obvious, but it is still important to actually say the answer to yourself.

Disputing Questions
Sometimes a disputing question may not work for a given thought. Meaning, that the answer to the disputing question may not successfully counter the original automatic thought. Other times, answering a disputing question may just raise more questions or negative thoughts. These situations are both fine. Go ahead and answer another disputing question. Go back and do it, a third and fourth time, if necessary. The goal is to come to a conclusion that successfully challenges your automatic thought, and as a consequence, reduces your anxiety.

Rational Responses
A rational response summarizes the main ideas developed while asking and answering the disputing questions and boils them down into a single short statement. There isn’t any special trick to developing a good rational response. It should be short, so you can quickly say it to yourself, positively phrased, and should be something that will remind you of the important answers to your disputing questions.