Catch It, Check It, Change It.
This is a tool used quite often in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and I have found it can be applied in pretty much every area of our lives where we have these negative or unhealthy internal scripts and narratives running. Often times we are not consciously aware of these scripts and the impact they can have on our perception of ourselves and the world around us so the core idea behind this tool is to bring awareness to the dialogue we’re having in any given moment.
CBT is based on the idea that theBBC Health
way you see yourself, the world and
other people can affect your thoughts
and feelings, and can ultimately lead
to mental health problems.
But through practice, you can learn
to change the way you think,
which can really help in recovering
from psychological problems and
improving your mental wellbeing.
Step one is to CATCH your thoughts. What are you currently thinking? What’s the pervasive loop that’s playing in your head? The most effective way to do this is to use your emotions or physical sensations as cues. If you’re feeling tension or tightness in a certain area or you’re experiencing higher than usual levels of anxiety or depression start to get curious about the thought or thoughts running around in your head. Try to see if you can spot any negative, hurtful or damaging thoughts arising around a situation that may be bringing on these physical or emotional experiences. (For instance: “My friend cancelled our movie night. They must not like me or I’m not worth their time.”)
Step two is to CHECK your thoughts. This is probably the hardest part, because it’s hard to be objective about our own thoughts. We all believe our own thoughts are “right”(remember the last time you talked with someone about politics or your favorite sports team?…yeah) . So, take the time to examine the evidence. Ask yourself is these thoughts are really true? Use logic and list the evidence (write it down if need be) you have as to why these thoughts are true or untrue. You can ask yourself is others would interpret this in the same way? (For instance: “my friend is quite busy lately with work and hasn’t had a lot of free time” or “My friend always showed up, it’s the first time they cancelled”) While this is certainly best done with a therapist or certified coach, it is possible to do this checking yourself with patience and practice.
Step three is to CHANGE it. At this point we’ll try substituting more realistic thoughts. If your automatic thoughts tend to be depressive or anxious, try reframing these thoughts to different – but realistic – ways of thinking about the situation. Try rephrasing your thoughts to more realistic ones using words or phrases like “even though”, “although”, “however”, “sometimes”, “can” and “and”. These can help create a more balanced statement. (For instance: “Although my friend cancelled on me this time, I understand they are quite busy so I will send a message and reschedule the movie night for time that’s convenient for both of us.”)
Finally, we need to determine if we believe this new, realistic and balanced way of thinking about the situation. If we do and it sits well with us and how helps us feel better about the situations then great, we’ve managed to reframe our internal script in a more positive and healthy way!! If we do not believe this new narrative, then we go back to step one and repeat the process until we’ve landed on something that resonates with us and feels more helpful.
Remember, this takes time and lots of practice so please be patient with yourself as you retrain your brilliant mind to look at these situations in a new and more helpful light.
For more information or help with this topic, or any of the topics I write about, please feel free to reach out and book a FREE 30 minute discovery call with me by going to the contact page and sending me a message!!
I wish you all the best in your journey.