I received lots of great feedback from September’s ANT therapy newsletter! If you missed it or want to review click here. Since so many of you said you appreciated the exercise, I thought we could continue with another great tool for our toolbox.
Are you like me in the way that if something gets in your head it goes ’round and ’round til whatever was bothering you just gets bigger and bigger? Sometimes that initial thought turns into a story that grows in size and untruth! Well, this is the perfect tool for those thoughts. This tip comes from the work of Byron Katie.
There are four questions of inquiry to ask when we feel sad, mad or nervous. Get out a pen and paper to write down your thoughts for this exercise. Why? It is important to write them down so our minds don’t play games with us, and we can see our thinking clearly. If we never question our negative thoughts, our brain believes them.
Four Questions to Ask
- Is it true?
Be still and ask yourself if this thought is a fact, or just an assumption or a feeling. Sometimes the answer becomes evident after a moment of pause. This will be either a YES or NO answer. (If the answer is NO go to Question #3.)
- Can I absolutely know it is true?
Go deeper to find the answers that live beneath what you think you know. Sometimes pausing and contemplating why you believe a thought will give you the space to find the real answer when you stop to consider.
- How do I feel (react) when I have this thought?
Pay attention to how you treat yourself when you have this thought. How do you treat other people? Make a list of the things you say, and how you act when this thought interrupts your peace of mind. How does this thought physically feel to you?
- Who would I be without this thought?
How would it feel, emotionally and physically, not to have this thought? How would you treat the person or situation differently if you didn’t have this thought? This is where the growth happens! We can choose our responses to our thoughts. We do not have to accept our feelings as fact.
An example of this exercise…
My statement: “My boss doesn’t listen to me.”
- Is this true? Yes
- Do I know this is absolutely true? No, I don’t! (Can I absolutely know my boss is not listening to me? Can I ever really know when someone is listening or not?)
- How do I feel when I have this thought? I feel rejected, shut down and defensive. I feel unappreciated.
- Who would I be without this thought? I would feel more open, confidant and less guarded when communicating with my boss.
The last step is the “turn around.” Find the opposite to your original statement. Statements can be turned around to self, to the other and to the opposite.
In cases where you have written someone’s name put yours instead. Play with this trying to use at least 3 specific examples of how the turnaround is true or truer than your original thought-statement.
Original thought: “My boss doesn’t listen to me.”
Turn around example #1: “I don’t listen to myself.”
I would look at this turn around statement to see if it is true, or truer than the original one. I would then identify examples of how I don’t listen to myself in the same situation as with my boss.
Turn around Example #2: “I don’t listen to my boss.”
I would find at least three examples of how I am not listening to my boss from their perspective in that situation. Am I listening to my boss, or thinking about her not listening to me?
Turn around Example #3: “My boss does listen to me.”
For this turn around I would find examples of when I know my boss listened to me.
Next time you have thoughts running rampant in your head try using the Four Questions. Remember, if we can change our script we can change our thoughts!