Let’s take a minute to talk about thoughts and feelings. And we’re going to start this articles by asking, “What do you think influences our behaviours, emotions, and more importantly, our feelings?” Have you ever thought about it? Well, according to mental health practitioners, our thoughts are responsible for all that. And to be honest, if you think about it, they might actually be onto something.
Researchers found out that a lot of people have these unhelpful thinking patterns as well as styles that they often use, even though they have the cognitive ability to decipher what’s wrong and what’s right. Take the case of a depressed individual, for instance. If you’re keen enough, you’ll realize that wherever they are they always battle negative thoughts characterized by unhelpful thinking patterns. It’s actually these patterns that make them look miserable, and feel depressed or in distress. And it’s like a vicious cycle because that feeling of distress and misery is what fuels and perpetuates the depression.
If you’re serious about changing the way you feel about a situation, you should start by challenging and changing those negative thoughts crisscrossing your mind. You could even imagine you’re a detective and you’re ready to solve a case. And once you’re done gathering enough evidence, put those thoughts on trial.
It’s only by examining the evidence that you’ll be able to assess whether these thoughts or beliefs are valid or not. Assuming you already understand the ABC analysis, we will move on to the forth step of the process of evaluating our thoughts and beliefs. Or what we often love to refer to as, the D-Step.
Throughout this article, we will use the letter “D” to represent the “Detective work” and “Disputation.” But let’s start with the Detective bit of it all, before moving on to Disputation.
Here, we will be searching for proof or evidence that does or doesn’t support the individual’s thoughts and beliefs. How? Well, we will be looking for facts and gathering evidence. So below are some helpful questions that will guide you through the process:
· Is there any proof or evidence that the individual’s thoughts or beliefs are true?
· Have you found any evidence that contradicts the individual’s thoughts or beliefs?
· How will you be able to tell if those thoughts and beliefs are true?
· Have you covered all your bases or there’s something that you’ve missed or overlooked?
· Could there be a different explanation?
· Are those expectations, thoughts or beliefs even realistic?
Like we said before, D also represents Disputation. In this case, you won’t be a detective, but a lawyer. And that means that you’ll be going on the defensive. Asking questions that challenge or dispute your expectations, thoughts, or beliefs, and ultimately, testing if they stand true, or how they hinder the individual. Some important questions to ask are:
· How many ways can the situation be viewed?
· Given the chance, how will a different lawyer view the situation?
· Let’s say the individual wasn’t depressed at all. Could they have viewed the situation in the same way?
· Realistically, what are the chances of coming to the same conclusion?
· Is it really helpful for you, the lawyer, to think in that fashion?
We’re not walking you through all this just to confuse you. We’re only trying to show you why it’s important to be objective when handling our thought process. Before coming to any conclusion, the right thing to do should be to analyze them, assess, and then evaluate. That’s the only way you’ll be able to figure out if they are indeed value or not.
The first thing that we did was to examine the link between thinking and feelings, and then we moved on to identify those negative thoughts and thinking styles. We’ve also looked at how to search for evidence that might help us prove or disapprove those negative beliefs. The only thing remaining is learning how to change that individual’s way of thinking, with the goal of improving how they feel.
The first step is to revise your negative thought, so that it may take into account the evidence already listed. Then go ahead and draft out an alternative explanation. This will be your new and balanced thought.
What is a Balanced Thought?
It’s one that takes into account the evidence, objective information collected, and different viewpoints. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll realize that we’re in the fifth step of the ABC analysis, which is the end-result. In this section, we compare notes. We will be looking at what we felt, and what we now feel after doing some detective work and disputation. Chances are, you won’t feel that intense emotion that you once felt at the beginning.
We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about changing the way you perceive certain aspects of life. Apply those techniques in your day-to-day life and you won’t feel as depressed or miserable as you once felt.
Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), MA, ABA, PMP, CCC