As part of my CBT years ago, I practised a lot of activities based on changing a negative belief into a positive. I had an exercise book full of tables, showing a negative and plus sign at the top. Whenever I was feeling really blue and defeated, I’d write down the thoughts that were going through my head, then counter them. For example:
I don’t want to go to work today because I have so much to do!
I’m so lucky that I have a job where people trust me enough to give me so many responsibilities!
I don’t want to stand in assembly and speak in front of all of those parents!
What an awesome challenge and experience! Not only will I get to say lovely things to parents about their children, but I’ll only feel brilliant and proud once it’s done!
I’m so fed up of living in this house! I’ve been ready to move for years and we’re still here! It’s too small for us – I’ve completely outgrown it.
Although it would be nice to move, that doesn’t mean we’re not happy here. I love this house because we’ve made it a home – it’s small, cosy and full of love and happy memories! I’m so lucky to have this.
That’s basically the gist of it. If you try it, it will feel quite forced at first. It’s just not natural to write or even think like this.
Everyone is different in what works for them, but I found that after I’d written a lot of these thought-swaps, I didn’t need to anymore… because I was automatically thinking like that. I was naturally going to the positive.
When I broke my leg a year and a half ago, so many people said that they couldn’t believe how positive I was. It was a pretty bleak situation – I spent my entire summer holidays plus 4 weeks off school, confined to the house like a prisoner. I had to relearn how to walk – how to move. I was uncomfortable and at times frustrated, but in general I was happy. A week after it happened, I’d written a 3-page word document listing all the brilliant outcomes of breaking my leg. I saw my leg rehab as a brilliant challenge. I saw my time on the couch as a chance to really reflect on where my life was going and what I wanted to change. And I finally had the time to tuck into some books!
We can’t control how life treats us, but if we practise altering our perspective, then it won’t matter anyway – we’ll be ok, no matter what.
Have you tried this technique? Did it work for you? Have you used a similar strategy that you’d like to share? Comment below: