This week we are talking about how to challenge your thinking rather than making assumptions that can possibly lead to a negative mood. In order to follow, it will be helpful to go back and read the previous blogs. Previously, we talked about when you are in a situation, you will have automatic thoughts about it (Tuesday's blog). These thoughts could lead you into a negative place, thus a negative mood. After identifying the thought, it is important to look at the evidence that supports or does not support your thought (Wednesday's blog). Today we will talk about creating an alternative thought based on the evidence you have provided yourself.
Creating an alternative thought is when the evidence that you gathered does NOT support your original automatic thought. You will want to create an alternative explanation for the situation. Now this isn't just replacing a negative thought with a positive thought. This is actually looking at evidence and seeing that there may be an alternative explanation.
After creating the alternative thought, give it a percent value of how much you believe this could be a possibility. (You will see this in my example below).
To further explain an alternative thought, let's continue with the explanation with Patty that we have used all week.
At this point, Patty has gone through her automatic thoughts and gathered evidence to support or not support her thoughts. To create her alternative thought, based on her evidence, her internal dialog may go something like this:
"Based on the fact that Jenny is always rushed because of her work schedule and raising 4 kids, I believe 100% that she just needed to keep moving. She knew she was going to see me tomorrow when we have lunch and that we could chat then." AND "Additionally, Jenny has a hard time disappointing people, so she probably would have felt bad waving and then not stopping to talk or to cut the conversation short. That would explain why she just kept moving." 100% OR "I do know she can be oblivious sometimes and in her own little world. I truly believe 100% that it is possible she didn't see me! And she didn't have her glasses on, which makes this more believable!" 100%
You can see how any of these explanations are reasonable to Patty and actually believable. She believed each one could be possible 100%!
Alternative thoughts give us a wider view of the situation rather than seeing it one way, our way. Alternative thinking is often more positive.
Good luck seeking alternative thoughts. It can be very freeing to realize there are other ways to see things than just the negative or OUR way!
Now tomorrow Joleen is going to help us see how creating alternative thoughts actually changes our mood. Thank you for reading this week!
Source: Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger & Christine Padesky
Written by Natalie Chandler
Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville