Here is an example of how to challenge negative thinking once you recognize that you are doing it:
- The Situation
You walk into your office in the morning and say hello to your assistant and she says nothing in return. You feel hurt.
- Your Possible Interpretations
A) Mind reading: "I have done something to make her angry."
B) Catastrophic thinking: "This is going to be a horrible day."
- Challenging the Evidence
A) "I don't remember doing anything that would have made her angry."
B) "She might just be having a bad day."
C) "She might not have heard me when I said hello."
D) "I was looking forward to some of the things I have on my schedule today. It might not be a great day, but it doesn't have to be horrible."
- Coming to a Balanced Interpretation
"I have no idea why she didn't say hello back and I feel hurt, but instead of jumping to conclusions, I will check it out with her. If she is mad at me, I will deal with it. It doesn't have to ruin my whole day."