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Self-help program

7. Breaking away from established thoughts

Every one of us makes hasty assumptions and conclusions at times, and sometimes these assumptions can be quite inconsistent. Anxiety can weaken our ability to think with flexibility and an open mind, thus increasing the likelihood of such misinterpretations.

Even if we recognise that one of our worries is not necessarily logical, it may still seem very real. However, challenging worries is a skill that we can learn.

Below is a list of automatic thoughts that often occur in generalised anxiety disorder. While reading the list, you can consider whether you recognise these thoughts in yourself and think of examples from your life. Then consider how you could think differently in the various situations described.

Exercise: Breaking away from automatic thoughts

Goal

You will learn to recognise and question automatic thoughts.

Instructions

Automatic thoughts often occur in generalised anxiety disorder. Read the list of automatic thoughts and consider whether you have any of them.

If you recognise that you have automatic thoughts, you can write down examples of situations in which they occur. Consider how you could think differently in these situations.

Example

“During a development discussion, I received a lot of praise and one slightly negative comment from my supervisor. I ignored the praise completely and now I only remember that one negative comment.”

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