Are Your Thoughts Valid?
Thought Series Part 5
We’re at the halfway point of my thought series and so far we’ve covered a lot. What have your learned about your thoughts? Are you noticing anything you’d like to change about the way you think?
We’re getting closer to the step where we change our automatic negative thoughts (“ANTs”) into more helpful ones, but first we have just a couple of quick questions to answer. Today we’re going to be looking at the validity of our ANTS. But first, a brief summary of what we’ve covered so far.
The Thought Series So Far
Step 1: Identifying ANTs
Step 2: Identifying the Emotions That Arise When You Have an ANT
Step 3: Recognizing the Physiological Changes that Result From ANTs
Step 4: Becoming Aware of the Behavioural Consequences of ANTS
If any of that sounds complicated, know that it’s not. These four easy steps simply help you identify your most common ANTs and the consequences of having them.
If you missed either of the earlier blog posts, you can go back and catch up by clicking HERE, or you can simply read this post as a standalone.
Today we are covering the fifth step:
Step 5: Is your ANT Valid?
For the purposes of this example, I’m going to continue using the ANT, “I’m going to be alone forever.”
I love this step because it’s quick and simple: Ask yourself, “Is this thought valid?”
Is it valid that I’m going to be alone forever? No, I can’t say it is. I have no idea whether it’s true or not, but chances are that since I still have half my life ahead of me, I’m actively pursuing a relationship, and I have had multiple serious relationships in the past, that it’s not valid.
You may find yourself answering “yes” to this question, and that’s ok too. It may be valid, it may be partially valid, or you might strongly believe it is. It’s a good question to ask regardless, because when we get really honest with ourselves, we often realize that many of the ANTs we have are not even valid.
We’re starting to collect quite a file on each of our negative thoughts. Here’s what I have so far for “I’m going to be alone forever.”:
ANT: I am going to be alone forever.
EMOTIONS: Sad, defeated.
PHYSIOLOGICAL IMPACT: Heaviness in my chest, tightening around my mouth, twitching near my eyes and fluttering in my stomach.
BEHAVIOUR: Withdrawing, stopping efforts to meet new men, seeming uninterested and distracted when I do meet potential mates.
You can probably see a pattern emerging here, a case against your ANTs. When you are able to see just how much your thoughts are affecting you in a detrimental way, you are more likely to feel the desire to put effort into changing them.
One Wednesday we have one more quick question to answer before we get to the thought-changing part. See you then!