The upsetting thoughts tool

Our thoughts affect how we feel and what we do. The thing about thoughts is that they are just that – thoughts in our head, not facts. Although sometimes it seems like our upsetting thoughts or worries can take over, thinking something does not actually make it true. Our thoughts and feelings and the way we act all work together.  

Here are some examples:

  • If you are having lots of thoughts about someone who has been unkind to you, you might feel upset and not want to go out
  • If you are worrying about how you look, you may feel very anxious and worried – and avoid seeing your friends
  • Having upsetting thoughts about your visible difference might make you feel angry and upset – and you may become annoyed or angry with your family or friends.

Our upsetting thoughts or worries come from things that happen to us. If something that makes us feel bad happens a lot, we might think that it will be tricky every time we are in that situation. We start to expect it to be upsetting and then we might avoid it or act in an angry or upset way. Here are some exercises to help you with this.

Remember it is your thoughts – not facts

When you are thinking about a tricky situation, it might help to remember that the upsetting thoughts or worries are in your head at the moment – not real – and the things you are worrying about might not happen at all. If you can practise doing this, it will take make the power of the thoughts less strong.

To help you feel even stronger and more confident, try thinking of  another, better thought. For example, you may think:

“I am worried about going to the party because people might think I look different.”

Instead, try thinking something like: “All my friends will be at the party and it will be fun.”

Or if you find yourself thinking, “People will stare at me.” Respond with, “People who stare may be curious and that’s ok. I am sometimes curious too. It doesn’t mean they are thinking bad thoughts about me.”

It will take practice, but try to do this when your upsetting thoughts or worries are stopping you from doing something or going somewhere.

What would you say to a friend?

We are much better at being kind to others and at thinking good things about them. So, imagine what you would say to a friend who was having the same upsetting thoughts as you.

Imagine your friend said, “I don’t want to go to the birthday party – I’m worried people will stare.” What would you say to your friend? Something like, “You can handle it; and you will be with friends and we really want you to be there. Please come – it will be fun and we will support you.”

You could even share your worries with your friends – and ask them what they may say to you. Try it out in a situation coming up soon and see how it works. With practice, you may find this really helps you.

You might also like to look at the Seeing my good points tool.

Seeing my good points tool

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About confidence

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