This is a continuation of last week’s post, The Irrational Thought – Part I. Sometimes letting go of our irrational thoughts and attached emotion is the best approach and sometimes allowing the thought and emotion to be a catalyst toward change is a direction we want to go. Last week we looked at acceptance and letting go of irrational thoughts and emotions. This post will focus on the times when you want to process the thought and emotion. The irrational thought and accompanying emotion I hypothesized were: No one likes me and I’m feeling sad. Ideally, acceptance is still the first step. Acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling. Remove judgment. At this stage you are simply letting the thought and emotion be what they are. Accept what you are thinking and feeling.
Once you have accepted the thought and emotion ask yourself if there is something you want to do with it? Do you want to look at it from a “what can I learn from this” approach? First you must find out if there is any validity to the thought. It is not wise nor useful to process entirely irrational thoughts. So use the first step to determine if there is any truth to the thought. Your dialogue might look like this: “So I’m feeling sad about my thought that people don’t like me.” Maybe one person said something to you or someone seemed to ignore you and you decided no one likes you. Ask yourself what evidence you have to support your thought. Evidence must be irrefutable, the kind that is admissible in a court of law. No assumptions, just facts. Thinking a person ignored you is not a fact to support they don’t like you. All you know is you weren’t acknowledged. You aren’t inside the person so you don’t even know if they heard or saw you (even if you thought they were looking at you). Did you audibly hear the words, “I don’t like you” or some variation that explicitly states the person’s dislike of you? If you haven’t heard those words, what is your proof that no one likes you? Is it because you are alone most of the time and don’t have very many friends? That isn’t a fact that no one likes you. The fact is: you don’t have as many friends as you would like. Now you are dealing with a rational thought. This is something you can process.
Identify the emotion that goes with the now rational thought. Perhaps it is still sadness. Go through the process of accepting the rational thought: I don’t have as many friends as I would like and the accompanying emotion of sadness. Accept that you are thinking this and feeling this way. No judgement, no snowballing just acceptance. After acceptance, you can process this but, you are going to have to wait until next week because I’m breaking this up into several parts…it’s easier to digest this way 🙂