This skill teaches how to change cognitive distortions (negative thoughts) into truth statements. If this sounds familiar, it probably is; it is the second step to the help skill Catch It. So, before reading this, you may want to brush up on that skill first!
Anyway, the idea of this skill is to temporarily stop, or interrupt, the negative message by identifying a very strong or startling statement and speaking it to yourself either in your head or out loud.
First, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there any real evidence or proof that this message is true?
- Is the negative message an exaggeration or a global judgement?
- What is a more realistic statement related to this situation?
For this post, I’ll give an example of a negative thought that I had in my recovery and real life and answer those questions
Frequently, and I’m talking at least once an hour, I would tell myself that if I ate I would get fat. If I had this skill handy, I would ask myself the questions I listed above.
- Is there any real evidence or proof that this message is true? “No. There’s no evidence that one of the most basic things that is essential to life would make me fat and unhealthy. A body needs food and nutrition to work.”
- Is the negative message an exaggeration or a global judgement? “This thought is definitely an exaggeration. No, if I eat normally and a reasonable amount, I will not get fat. A body is made to work with what it is given and to handle excess amounts of food on an occasional basis. However, my thought was true in a sense. If I overeat every single meal and don’t have any nutritional basis to my food, I could very well, over a very extended period of time, become fat. But, it is highly unlikely because I enjoy eating healthfully and I know better and have better self-control than to eat 6 dozen doughnuts every day.”
- What is a more realistic statement related to this situation? “At this point in my malnourishment I can’t afford to stay the same weight or lose any more. Food is supposed to help replenish my body back to health. Once I get back to a healthy weight, then I can focus on, but not worry about, maintaining my weight.”
Last week, I had a breakdown when I spilt water on and broke my laptop. Naturally, I thought “God, this is completely my fault and I don’t deserve to get a replacement until I can afford it myself”
- Is there any real evidence or proof that this message is true? “In some ways, this message is true. It would have been difficult to predict that a glass of water would get tipped over as I clean and spill directly all over the keyboard of my laptop. Also, I would have liked to buy myself a replacement, but I know that it would have been unrealistic to do so. I don’t have the funds or the time to wait until I did. It was an accident and when I told my mom about it, she understood it was an accident and didn’t hesitate to take care of it for me.”
- Is the negative message an exaggeration or a global judgement? “Yes, it’s an exaggeration. To an extent, it was my fault for it breaking because the glass tipped over at my hand, but I didn’t expect that to happen. It was not as though I had poured the class on my laptop intentionally.”
- What is a more realistic statement related to this situation? “What happened is in the past and the issue has been resolved. Instead of stewing over my clumsiness, I can just take steps to be more careful in the future.”