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The Narratives We Create

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Healthy Thinking: The Narratives We Create

GIm3uI_ml1s by Kinga Burjan

What meaning do you attach to certain situations?

Many times, it’s not the situation itself that is extra stressful, but rather how we think about it. It’s the narrative that we give to the situation.

Where do unhelpful narratives show up in your life?

“Don’t cry over spilled milk!”

These unhealthy narratives can show up in various aspects of our lives. How can you put your changed narrative into practice?

First, pay attention to what goes through your mind…

What kind of unhelpful thoughts are you thinking about? Are you being hard on yourself? What kind of things are you worrying about?

It’s easy to focus on all the possible negative experiences.

These unhelpful thoughts are called “cognitive distortions” or “thinking traps”.

Pay attention if any of your thoughts are one of these distorted thoughts a.k.a “thinking traps”:

  • Labelling
  • Catastrophizing
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Mind reading
  • Emotional reasoning

How may the thoughts about this situation be contributing to your stress? What is underneath the surface of these thoughts? Why might you be having these thoughts?

It’s okay to ask others for help to move forward. Talk to one of our addiction counsellors or therapists to gain some more insights.

Am I just believing things I heard in the past that aren’t necessarily true now? What is the reality of the situation?

Don’t let your thoughts ambush you. You can’t control if they come up, but you don’t have to entertain them.

Take a moment to observe to be able to respond rather than react.

Imagine a scenario that brings up unpleasant emotions for you… Observe the thoughts that may be contributing to these unpleasant feelings. Explore what these thoughts are with curiously and without judgement.

Take a moment to write down any thoughts that come up around this situation for you. Also, take a moment to write down any feelings attached to this situation.

Take time to investigate the underlying reasons you might be thinking and feeling this way.

Perhaps some of these reasons aren’t as true as they first seemed to appear. Perhaps there are other helpful thoughts that weren’t there initially. Getting more facts can break down blocks in our beliefs. Gathering more information gives us insight to what may be going on for others. Take time to investigate, and ask questions.

You may be surprised at what you discover. Our minds are capable of taking us for a ride if we let it!

Inquire if your thoughts are true or not true.

Sometimes, our minds can make up creative narratives that aren’t necessarily true. Being aware of your narratives is a big step forward!

Share what you’ve learned about yourself with someone you trust.

It’s okay if our original thoughts aren’t correct. It’s not possible to have all the facts up front. However, now you know that gathering more information can help us change our narrative. Ask yourself, is this a Cognitive Distortion (or Thinking Trap)?

Notice your narrative.

Deconstruct your narrative by speaking it outloud or writing it down.

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Clinical Director, Virtual Integrated Programming

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