Challenge Your Thoughts

Challenging the Validity of Your Thoughts
William C. Sanderson, PhD

Once you have identified thoughts that triggered (or are associated with) your emotional response, “challenge” the thought(s) by subjecting it to the following questions (only some will be relevant):

1.  What is the evidence?  What is the evidence that supports this idea?

        What is the evidence against this idea?

2.  Is there an alternative explanation(s) - Are there any other ways I can view the situation?

3.  Realistically speaking, what is the worst that could happen? Could I live through it?
        What is the best that could happen?  

        If I had to guess, what is the most likely outcome?  

        Is there any action I can take that would help the situation in some way?

4.  What would I tell ______ (a friend) if they were in the same situation?

5.  Is this thought distorted in some way, or have I made an error in information processing?

6.  Have I had any experiences that show that this thought is not completely true all the time?

7.  If a friend or someone who cares about me knew I was thinking this thought, what would they say to me? What evidence would they point out to me that would suggest that my thoughts were not 100% true?

8.  When I am not feeling this way, do I think about this type of situation any differently? How?

9.  Have I been in this type of situation before? What happened? Is there anything different between this situation and previous ones? What have I learned from prior experiences that could help me now?

10.  Are there any small things that contradict my thought that I might be discounting as not important?

11.  Five years from now, if I look back at this situation, will I look at it any differently? Will I focus on any different part of my experience?

12.  Are there any strengths or positives in me or the situation that I am ignoring?

13.  Am I jumping to any conclusions that are not completely justified by the evidence?

14.  Am I blaming myself for something over which I do not have complete control?

If you get into the habit of questioning automatic thoughts, you should find that you can more easily control your emotional reactions by generating realistic ways of looking at the situation