#Askingforafriend: Overcoming negative thinking, Part 2
By Kiesha Collins
GCU Office of Student Care
Welcome back! Part 1 last week described a few of the most common types of cognitive distortions, such as jumping to conclusions, black-and-white thinking and overgeneralizing.
Recognizing and identifying negative-thinking traps is helpful in understanding that our thoughts are not facts. Being mindful of this allows us to challenge our thoughts versus accepting them as reality.
When you allow unhelpful thoughts to steer your mind and fester, you probably don’t feel too great. Feelings of fear, shame, guilt or anger might arise and trigger you to respond in a reactionary way that you later regret.
Therefore, if you want to change how you feel and how you behave in a situation, try changing your thoughts. You may not be able to control how you feel, but you can control how you think.
A simple trick that can help you is using the 3 C’s: Catch, Check and Change.
- Catch the thought that causes you to feel negatively.
- Check the thought by assessing it through a lens of facts and evidence that either support or dispute the thought.
- Change the thought by substituting a realistic or more positive one.
Let’s say you receive an email from a professor asking you to meet with him or her after class. Naturally, you’re curious about what will be discussed, but you notice that your curiosity quickly leads you to feeling panic. In that state of panic, you retrace your thoughts and quickly identify the one that triggered the panic: “I’m in trouble and going to fail this class!”
So far, you have managed to Catch the thought that has led you to feeling distress. Now it’s time to Check it.
What evidence do you have to support the thought?
Have you done anything that would warrant being in trouble?
If so, would it warrant failing the course?
Can there be any other reasons that your professor wants to meet with you after class?
It’s important to consider alternative scenarios and weigh them with objective facts. Try not to let your distress take hold of you.
Finally, after catching the thought and checking it, try to Change it with an alternative.
In this case, let’s say that you haven’t done anything that would warrant actually being in trouble. So an appropriate and realistic reframe could be, “There could be a multitude of reasons why my professor wants to meet with me. Regardless of what it’s about, I’ll be OK.”
Don’t let a faulty thought steal your present moment and contentment. Remember that if you want to get unstuck from feeling distressing emotions, try to evaluate whether a cognitive distortion is the trigger by using your 3 C’s.