The Connection Between Your Thoughts, Feelings & Behaviors
Even if you are taking the numerous offerings of advice from social media, friends, parents, and the UCC you might still be struggling with your thoughts and feelings from time to time. That’s not unusual. There is nothing wrong with feeling affected by a global crisis which has disrupted “normality”. That is just human. Yet, managing and reframing some persistent and distracting thoughts might help to continue to find small joys, despite new challenges
Reframing can take a lot of different forms, but here are a few steps to try when you find yourself swept away by unhelpful thoughts and powerful emotions.
Identify thoughts and feelings and what is influencing them:
Maybe you are having some set-backs on a school assignment, or maybe an event you were looking forward to has been cancelled. As a result a difficult thought comes to your mind, “I have no future.” or “I’ll never see my friends again.” What emotions do you feel? What behaviors result?
It might be helpful to ask yourself these questions, and even write them down in a notebook or a “thought record”. It might also be useful to question some of your thoughts.
- How realistic is this thought?
- Is this thought based on facts or feelings?
- What evidence do I have to support this thought?
- Are there other interpretations for this evidence?
- Am I interpreting this situation as black and white when it is more complicated?
- What are other thoughts I could have about this situation that might be based more in fact and also cause less distress?
Move from extreme thinking to descriptive thinking:
It is tempting to think, “Everything is horrible”, but it might be more useful to move from black and white type thinking to something more descriptive. Staying at home might be a disappointment and uncomfortable, but it is probably many other things as well. The situation might be very bad, but it is likely not 100% terrible. Find the opportunities and the things you feel gratitude for. Find things that awaken your curiosity and it may be easier to temper the inclination to jump to complete catastrophe.
Try being open to change and move from demands to preferences:
Shifting expectations of yourself, others, and your situation can work wonders. Expecting everything to go exactly as you plan it might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Again, tap into curiosity and openness.
Recognize what you would prefer, and acknowledge the difference between wants and needs. Needs are necessary to the physiological and psychological well-being and survival of a person. Nutritious food is a need, but eating out at a restaurant is a want.
Focus on the agency you have:
Shift from thinking of yourself as a passive victim to an active agent. Staying at home is a proactive role to protect others from getting sick and medical providers from being overwhelmed with new cases. Think about ways you can help others, whether you are helping your family finish chores, assisting a classmate with an assignment, or volunteering to help a community organization to support the health and well-being of others. Though there are many events out of your personal control, you still have the power to choose how you respond.