Once we understand our thoughts (Part A), we can use different techniques to review our thinking process, including: find evidence, possible causes of the event, the best and the worst outcomes, etc.
We have to list the evidence for and against a thought.
Is there any evidence supporting the thought of "he is certainly a thief"?
- He is suspicious
- He has been following behind me
Is there any evidence against the thought of "he is certainly a thief"?
- Perhaps he lives nearby as well
- The security of the nearby area has always been good
We can also list various reasons why the event occurred and assess the probability of each cause. For example, he has been following behind for the following reasons:
- He also lives nearby (40%)
- He is looking for his friends (30%)
- He is taking a stroll (10%)
- He is a thief and wants to rob me (10%)
- He has other bad intentions (10%)
Moreover, we can think about the best and the worst possible outcomes of the event. When we are faced with the worst outcome, we can ask ourselves three more questions: How to respond to the worst outcome? Is this an unbearable outcome? Is this a controllable or uncontrollable outcome?
Let us illustrate with an example:
Best outcome: He lives nearby and is also on his way home.
Worst outcome: He wants to rob me or has other bad intentions against me.
How to respond to the worst outcome? For instance, you may try protecting yourself or getting help.
Is this a controllable or uncontrollable outcome? For example, you cannot control his behaviour, but you can keep a distance from him.
Is this an unbearable outcome? If you can accept the worst outcome (i.e. he is going to rob me, but I know this route better than him and I am able to get rid of him), you will find that it is not as terrible as you have thought!
From the above example, we can eliminate unhelpful negative thoughts by understanding and reviewing our thinking process, thereby breaking this vicious cycle and reducing negative emotions.