Sometimes we feel sad, angry, or paranoid. All these bad feelings or emotions are our responses to an event. The event in itself never causes an emotion. It is our interpretation or evaluation of an event that causes emotions. It goes without saying that our evaluation of an event is based on our needs, perceptions, and experiences.
Now, how do we know if our evaluation of an event is correct? What if you harbored negative feelings just because your interpretation of an event was wrong? We also have Thinking Errors and Self-Defeating Beliefs that lead to negative thinking and induce stress. (You can Google for a list).
A simple tool exists to reprogram and modulate your thinking. You have to do the following writing exercise daily with two events that disturb you. The events could be from the past too.
1) Situation Number, Date, and Time – When did the event happen?
2) Event – Talk, behavior, or news that annoyed you.
3) Evaluation – What was your evaluation or perception of the event?
4) Emotion – What was your emotion as a consequence of your evaluation? Was it loss-sadness, threat-fear, betrayal-
5) Fact/Thought – Is your evaluation a fact or a thought?
6) Evidence – What evidence do you have to prove that your evaluation is a fact?
7) Re-evaluate – Write five different ways in which others will perceive this event.
Accepting — If it is so, so what, what is so bad about it?
9) Merits/Demerits – What are the merits and demerits of your thinking or evaluation?
10) Thinking Error – What are the thinking errors you have?
11) What Will You Tell A Friend? – If your friend were in a similar situation, what advice would you give her/him?
12) What Did You Learn? – What did you learn from this exercise or event?
EXAMPLE OF HOW IT IS DONE:
1) Situation Number, Date, Time — 1, 5-8-09, 3 P.M
2) Event — Pam was given her pink slip due to recession blues.
3) Pam thinks (evaluates) — Oh, I have been singled out for the pink slip. Maybe, I should have taken up that difficult
assignment. It would have helped me to stay put. Will I get a job if my future employees know that I was laid off? I will miss
my monthly salary. What will my family members and friends say?
4) Emotion – As a result of her thinking, Pam feels sad that she has been laid off and fears if she may not get a new job.
5) Fact or Thought — Whatever Pam is thinking is just thoughts.
6) Evidence — Pam has no evidence to validate her thoughts.
7) Re-evaluate – (a) A lot of efficient people have been laid off. It is just an effect of recession. (b) I can use this time for
updating my skills and will get a better job. (c) I can catch up with my family, friends and spend quality time with them. (d) I
can develop a new hobby that is very fruitful. (e) I can freelance and make money.
Accepting. If it is so, so what, what is so bad about it? — Nothing bad, separations and layoffs are part of private
9) Merits – No merits due to Negative Thinking. Demerits – Loss of self-confidence.
10) Thinking Errors — Hindsight thinking, fairness error, control error, change error, single negative filter.
11) What will you tell your friend? — Failures are stepping stones to success. Enhance your skills and look out for a
suitable job opening.
12) What did you learn? – Have a fallback plan to catch up with when you lose a job. Save your money for lean periods. Do
not seek approval for your new or stop-gap lifestyle. Do not blame and punish anyone.