Today’s journal question: Calling out unhelpful thoughts

What was my first thought when I woke up this morning?

This was a fun journal question. I came up with as an introduction to a lesson on types of unhelpful automatic thoughts. The gunky unruly thoughts that take over when we are triggered or put on the spot without warning.

They are called ANTS (automatic negative thoughts). Stuff like focusing on the bad and ignoring the good in a situation (minimization/magnification), black and white thinking (dichotomous reasoning), blaming yourself for stuff beyond your control (personalization), and letting feelings tell the story (emotional reasoning).

There are 10 from this worksheet from Positive Psychology I used today in group.

It was a great session and this idea of challenging runaway thoughts that bring us down really clicked with the guys. They wrote things like:

Work on replacing irrational thoughts with healthier responses.

Pay attention to the impact my thoughts have on me. More awareness = more well-being and better positive behavior.

Do not allow my first negative thought to take over the current situation or my whole outlook on life.

Fact, check my thoughts.

There are some life-changing benefits to becoming aware of our thoughts. I’d say the greatest is learning that we are not at the mercy of our mind. 

Like I tell people:

The brain makes a wonderful servant and a terrible master.

What we focus on grows. Look for yellow cars and suddenly the world is full of them. Point out flaws all day in daily life and suddenly existence sucks. 

Second, learning to talk to her thoughts and emotions like a loving parent, a caring teacher, or a compassionate friend, is a pillar of self-care and learning to have your own back. 

When you care enough to question, cause your perception of things, you make a new friend. A good friend, not the toxic kind you are learning to leave behind.

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