Do you find yourself fearing the worst is going to happen, only to find out it was absolutely fine?
I know I’ve suffered from this in the past, and once the thought pollutes your head, you really believe it will actually be bad. The train of thought becomes one negative cognitive system which shifts negativity on to other thought processes. So, what is actually going on?
These processes are Negative Automatic Thoughts, or simply NATs: a concept defined by Beck who proposed that the ideas are negatively framed thoughts as to what is going on in the world around us.
These contrast the majority of our thought processes, known as Automatic Thoughts, which happen naturally. For instance, knowing how to flick the kettle on, being certain without thinking where to find certain items in your home, or how to get to your office. Even some of your work could be automatic processes.
However, ANTs occur when automatic thoughts shift forward over thinking as to why something has happened or how it has made you feel.
In general, a clear cognitive interpretation would review the situation and come to a sound conclusion which is then saved in your memory in preparation for another time.
However, once an idea is challenged it cannot be stored meaning the idea festers extensively. The result is self-doubt, depressive thoughts, anxiety, anger, being lethargic; , becoming irritable, low mood or swift mood changes.
NATs are defined as being entirely negative; critical thoughts attributed to yourself; self - sabotaging; cannot be controlled; even the most ridiculous ideas seem believable; one-sided; based on black and white ideas which have no shade of grey; a desire to perfect every outcome; knowing you know the outcome being pessimistic and taking responsibility for a negative situation when it may not be yours to be responsible for.
How do you deal with an ATN? You need to take a step back from the situation. Once you have that space, try to understand your train of thought. Try to describe your feeling; attempt to write down the thought in an Ideas Journal - or if this is difficult try to draw the thought pictorially like a sad or expressionless face. Then, go further, by asking why you feel this? What appeared to you in the situation as a negative outcome? Consider how you interpreted this? What was the overall meaning for you? Through going through this, you will grasp a clearer understanding of the structure of the thought process and how it relates to you.
If an Ideas Journal is a useful resource, try to log the number of Automatic Negative Thoughts you have in a day. Then, after a week, count the overall ANTs; plot these over a month to see how they change as you attempt to regain control of your thoughts.
You may also find my free resources useful to you, and book a life coaching session with me may help you to Avoid Negative Thoughts. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07544 899681