Thoughts are not facts. Did you know our brains don’t always tell us the truth?
It’s important not to believe everything we think. This can be confronting, it’s important to remember just because we think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Next time your mind jumps to conclusions try to remember that thoughts aren’t facts.
Take a moment and check to see where your head was at the time that thought popped into your head. With time and practice, you will be able to see the thoughts come and go instead of treating them as fact
So how do we do this? How do we challenge these thoughts?
Step one: Notice the thought.
Take a moment to notice you are having a thought
Step two: Ask yourself, is it true?
Often we answer straight away and say ‘’well yes of course!’’
This is our brain being reactive and working on autopilot.
Step three: Is this thought absolutely true?
Is there any wiggle room? Is this thought 100% true or accurate?
Is there another way you can see it?
Step four: How does this thought make me feel?
What storylines are you holding on to? What beliefs or past experiences are impacting you at this moment? Name your feelings, are you feeling hurt? rejected? angry?
Step five: Is there another explanation?
What else could be happening or how could you challenge the thought?
Ok so let’s see how this works in practice using the above 5 steps
Let’s say I’m walking my dog and I see my friend Pamela walking in the distance, I wave enthusiastically to her and …nothing.
I may automatically think to myself, ‘’ she hates me, I must have done something to upset her’’
Step 1- I notice I am having the thought that Pamela hates me
Step 2 – Yes it’s TRUE, I know nobody likes me.
Step 3 – well, maybe not, we hung out last week and things were fine
Step 4- I feel rejected, I was excited to see her and I felt ignored. I felt like a kid at school where no one would play with me and kids would talk behind my back
Step 5 – Maybe she didn’t hear me, perhaps she had her AirPods in.
Remember our thoughts aren’t facts, they are mental events that pop up in our minds and can be dependent on our mood or can change it altogether.