Are you having trouble with NATs? – Negative Automatic Thoughts that is!

sign direction negative - positiveNo, not the annoying little flying things but these NATs can be just as annoying! I am talking about trouble with Negative Automatic Thoughts. Those things that we think to ourselves which cause us to doubt ourselves or or those around us. Have you ever passed a friend in the street or the supermarket and they haven’t acknowledged you? What did you think at the time? Perhaps “Well, he was obviously busy and he didn’t have his glasses on. Never mind, I will give him a call later.” or maybe “He just ignored me.  I must have done something wrong. I must have said something wrong.” If you find yourself thinking the latter then you maybe the subject of NATs.

Typical examples of negative automatic thoughts are:

Mindreading – assuming that we know what other people are thinking like “He thinks I’m an idiot”. In reality we have no idea what others are thinking about us or what is going on in their heads generally.

Fortune Telling Errors – where we assume an outcome to something based on what we think is fact. This is seldom true but can become a self fulfilling prophecy when we close ourselves down to the possibility of change.

Overgeneralising – where we believe that one setback means that we are always destined to fail – “I failed to get that project completed on time so I am a complete failure at everything.”

Filtering – where we filter out all of the positive evidence and focus only on the negatives.

There are many more examples but the trouble with these negative automatic thoughts is that they can be unhelpful and are usually distortions of reality, but they become habit with repetition and become completely plausible to the person thinking them.

The first step to overcome the power of negative automatic thoughts is to start to recognise that you are having these thoughts. The best approach is to keep a diary of feelings and start to analyse your behaviour when this happens and what triggers them. For example – you feel angry at something and this causes you to cry. You notice that this happens around certain people.

So then write down your thoughts and beliefs about those situations and try to identify which of those are distortions – Negative Automatic Thoughts. Then you can start to plan more constructive mechanisms for managing the situations that cause those thoughts being clear and specific and rehearsing those reactions before the situations arise.

There are various methods to quickly and effectively alter negative thinking into more positive thinking. Please get in touch to find out how I can help you overcome those pesky NATs.

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