While you’re learning to identify and challenge your thinking patterns, it’s a good idea to write down the changes that occur in a diary or notebook to help you to develop your skills. This helps you see the advantages of working on your thoughts, and motivates you to keep at it.
When you’re feeling down, try to examine your thoughts. If they’re negative or critical, challenge them. Once you get into the habit of disputing negative self-talk you’ll find it easier to handle difficult situations, and as a result you’ll feel less stressed and more confident and in control.
Sometimes you might confuse your thoughts or feelings with reality, or assume that your perceptions are correct. Ask yourself: Am I thinking this way just because I’m feeling bad right now? Just because I’m feeling this way, does that mean my perceptions are correct?
When you over-generalise, you exaggerate the frequency of negative things in your life, like mistakes, disapproval and failures. You might think to yourself: I always make mistakes, or everyone thinks I’m stupid. Instead, be specific: What are the facts? What are my interpretations?
When things go wrong, you might have a tendency to exaggerate the consequences and imagine that the results will be disastrous. What’s the worst/best/most likely that can happen? Will this matter in five years? Is there anything good about the situation, or a way to fix it?
You can’t change the past, but you can take your new set of circumstances and challenges and plan a strategy to get back to where you want to be. Any time we practice adapting, we create the possibility of happiness that doesn’t depend on perfect conditions.