(note: This is part 2 in my series on NATs or Negative Automatic Thoughts. You can read part one here) Post contains affiliate links.
One of the biggest problems I personally face is something called ‘Fortune Telling.’ (this page has some helpful info on this.)
This is where you have something go wrong, big or small and then start to imagine everything else that could go wrong as a result. (Usually you believe it is an absolute certainty this will happen, because how could it not?)
For example your car doesn’t start; even if you then get it started five minutes later, now all you can imagine is that it actually is about to break down and will definitely cost hundreds to be repaired. (Also you might then spend the rest of the day convinced every little thing has gone wrong as a result of that initial five-minute delay, just because.)
This is of course ridiculous. One small hiccup does not mean a huge problem lies underneath, nor can it cause an entire day to be cursed! However, a brain like mine doesn’t understand that.
Just recently we were happy, my husband started his new job which meant a pay rise, along with being home for dinner every night and less travel, everything was going our way! We treated ourselves to some small things we’d wanted for a while.
Then my car had its MOT and some expensive repairs were needed, which drained our savings, shortly after that Husband got a letter from his old work place telling him because they made a mistake we now owed them money back.
Just like that my euphoria died. I spent several days spiralling deeper into dark thoughts of doom and gloom.
I convinced myself everything would go wrong for the foreseeable future; I would fail at blogging, we couldn’t afford to do things we’d been hoping to do, all my friends probably hated me because I wasn’t any fun to be around. (Just because my brain likes to throw that one in there, from time to time.) (See this page for helpful info if you find yourself doing this.)
Of course this was all ridiculous. On our next pay days our savings account refilled, Husbands Dad helped him write a fantastically sarcastic letter disputing the old company’s claims, I kept writing and I saw my friends as normal.
Fortune Telling is a damaging and dangerous part of negative thinking, because it serves no purpose but to drag you deeper into negativity.
You cannot possibly know what the future will hold. STOP TRYING TO PREDICT YOUR DOOM!
If I could follow my own advice every time a dark cloud descended on me it would disappear far quicker, unfortunately it is hard to see a way out when you’re in the thick of it. Here are some useful steps I’ve found really help me when i’m at my worst:
Whatever your worries right now, whatever part of your life they come from, write them down. All of them! Now underneath each thing you’ve listed add three notes:
- How important is this really? Will it affect your livelihood or families wellbeing? Or will it just annoy you a little bit?
- Does this really need to be on this list? Is the thing that’s bothering you already due to be resolved? Is it actually someone else’s problem you are taking on, and are they dealing with it themselves?
- Is this problem a Fact or a Fear? Is it a real tangible thing, or are you just worrying about it because ‘it might be’?
Go back through the list; anything that you answered ‘not important/won’t affect us’, ‘not my problem/they can handle it’ and/or ‘just a fear’ to, remove from your list.
I guarantee it will reduce by half.
With whatever is left on your list, these are your next three steps:
- Reorder by priority, meaning most serious/time sensitive at the top.
- Write a plan for each item, starting with the top priorities. Look at every angle, figure out exactly what needs to be done to solve it.
- Take each solution and then fit it into your life. Meaning; If the solution requires time, look at your schedule and move/cancel anything you can to make time to fix this. If it requires money, rewrite your budget over and over if you have to, until you find the money you need. (Anything non-essential comes after putting the money to fix this aside.)
There, don’t you feel better just seeing the path to your solutions set out in front of you? I know I do.
If you would like a cheap, easy way to relate to NATs, try this excellent little book I found. Some experts say ANTs instead of NATs, and in this book that’s been turned into a cute play on words. this approach makes it easy to understand them and gives excellent advice on dealing with them.
I have one more thing for you, I promise this will make it easier when you’re having one of those days.
All you need to do is click on the download links and you’ll have 3 cute pages to organise all the steps we discussed above.
A page for listing your worries list and a page each for figuring out the real priorities, then making your plan of action!
Once you’ve downloaded them I recommend a certain process: print the list page first. (Maybe even a couple if you feel you might need to.)
Then once you’ve got it laid out print off as many of the ‘Should this be on my list or not?’ pages as you need. Fill them out and weed out the fears until you’re left with your real priorities.
Fill out your list again. Finally, once you’re left with only the actual problems you have, print off your ‘How do I fix it’ pages and make your plan of action.
You will have them conquered in no time, don’t worry!
Seeing it all written down makes these thoughts solid, which makes them things that are no longer overwhelming, so they can be defeated.
Finally, just one more thing:
This quote is one of the truest and most important things I have ever read.
Please keep it in mind the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and need to take a step back and just take care of yourself.
Just breath, everything is going to be okay, I promise. It is never as bad as you think.
In case you missed them, here are those helpful links to articles about Negative Automatic Thoughts and Fortune Telling again:
This one lists different types of NATs and is extremely useful
This one talks about taming your mind monsters and is a pretty good read
This one has a cute ant analogy (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
I hope those printables really help! xxx