Challenging Negative Thoughts (“Be Nice…to yourself” cont.)


In his Ted Talk, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” Guy Winch also mentioned negative thoughts. One way to be there for yourself emotionally is to tackle negative thoughts. When something happens identify the thoughts you’re having. Maybe you’re about to go up in front of your peers or colleagues and give a presentation and you’re nervous. Ask yourself, why am I nervous? Maybe you’re nervous because you’re thinking, “My peers/colleagues will laugh at me.”, “My peers/colleagues will judge me if I stumble over words or if my voice starts to shake.”, or “My peers/colleagues will hate my presentation”. These are some thoughts that might be making you nervous so lets take these thoughts once they’ve been identified and challenge them.

My peers/colleagues will laugh at me. Why would they laugh at you? Is your presentation funny? Are you wearing a red clown nose? If the answer is no then this thought is probably just a negative and irrational thought. If by chance someone does laugh though what’s the worst that could happen? You’d be embarrassed yes but I’ll tell you this, if someone laughs during your presentation when there’s no good reason to laugh they’ll be the one most embarrassed.

My peers/colleagues will judge me if I stumble over words or if my voice starts to shake. Consider this, what if it were someone else up there stumbling over words with a trembling voice? Would you judge them harshly? Would you immediately characterize them as incompetent? Probably not. The most you would think is, Oh…they’re just a bit nervous (which isn’t uncommon in terms of public speaking). Most likely they’ll show understanding just as you would. Another negative though down.

My peers/colleagues will hate my presentation. What reason would they have to hate it? Is your presentation well prepared? Does your presentation focus on what its supposed to focus on? Do YOU like your presentation? If the answer is yes then you probably don’t need to worry yourself about people hating it. And if someone does hate it even though its well prepared, well focused, and you like it…their opinion is probably irrelevant.

Identifying and challenging those thoughts that are making you nervous will effectively make you less nervous because you’ll realize that they’re only thoughts…not realities. It does take practice though. So whenever you find yourself in a situation where you’re nervous, anxious, angry, afraid, or sad I encourage you to identify the thoughts going through your head right at that moment and then challenge those thoughts. Do those thoughts make sense? Are those thoughts realistic? Do you have evidence to support that thought? Is it an exaggerated thought? Would a friend of yours agree with the thought? Ask yourself these question after identifying your thoughts and I promise you’ll end up in a better emotional state than the one you started in.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on this please do mention them below. And if you liked this or found it helpful please do share it.


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