Do you work with children who quickly spiral into negative thinking or get caught up in their worries? It can be so overwhelming.
When anxiety is running the show, we can easily slip into negative thinking (cognitive distortions) which means our thoughts are trying to keep us safe, but they aren’t facts and are untrue. These false beliefs and faulty thinking styles have the potential to cause psychological damage.
Some examples of common cognitive distortions are:
- Labelling a person/event/situation as either amazing or terrible – – that’s black and white (all or nothing thinking). Human life is nuanced with its shades of grey. In my book, Stuck Between Two Worlds, Ruby’s family are all about right and wrong, and it leaves her feeling angry and confused.
- I had a terrible day! – – that’s mental filtering. Ignoring the good stuff that happened and being fixated on what went wrong.
- I’m late for school so now the whole day will be terrible – – that’s magnification (catastrophising). Expecting the worst / not believing/trusting that it can change. Sometimes, dealing with doom and gloom all day is so familiar, that we stay stuck there instead of opening up to new possibilities.
- It’s not really that bad! – – that’s minimization. Hiding or playing down how we feel so as not to bother others.
- I should be feeling better by now! – – that’s shoulding. Imposing high or unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others.
Do you expect the worst?
Admittedly, I’m the 👑 Queen of Catastrophising! This week, I was talking to the local council about supporting vulnerable families. When I got off the call, I noticed my worried brain spiralling into future thinking.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Some of us are more predisposed to worrying.
Wildhearts are! Three days a week, I listen to Wildhearts’ worries. All humans worry though AND we all worry about similar stuff.
A problem shared is a problem halved
There’s a huge relief about knowing you can hand them over to somebody else. Or you can have somebody help you untangle it all and make sense of it.
🚨 What if people think badly of me? What if I get it wrong?
🚨 What if they laugh at me? What if nobody talks to me?
🚨 What if I can’t make friends? What if I can’t do it?
🚨 What if I forget? What if my Mum gets COVID?
🚨 What if my dog dies? What if I get told off?
🚨 What if my friend can’t make it and I’m left alone?
🚨 What if I don’t understand? What if I don’t get chosen?
🚨 What if….what if….😖
Anxiety is exhausting!
It saddens me how hard we can be on ourselves. Our creative, confident mind is switched off when our worries take over. It also makes learning really tricky. We might even feel worried if we don’t know something or we get something wrong.
Nobody knows it all. Not even Google. That’s what I tell the kids who listen to Truly Madly Smiley.
Life is full of unknowns.
Growing up there’s so much to learn. So much to remember. Our brains are not built to have 10 browsers open at once.
Humans like certainty. There’s not a lot of that in this life. Especially right now. It’s NOT wrong or a mistake if you don’t know. BUT sometimes that feels scary. In the Courage Chats, I talk about how being out of your comfort zone is like being in a dark room.
What else turns down the volume on negative thoughts and worries?
I love to teach children fun ways to use their amazing imaginations.Truly Madly Smiley members get a journal so they can scribble or doodle as they listen. Writing out our worries takes their power away. It’s also easier to spot negative patterns and cognitive distortions. Over time, we can become a thought detective and see how our thoughts are holding us back.
It’s lovely to see worried Wildhearts smile again.
Over the years, I’ve found that strengthening the lifelong learner in me helps. It’s fun learning and finding out.
I’ve replaced my JUDGEMENTAL, fearful worries with CURIOSITY. I don’t panic if I don’t know. I haven’t worked it out….yet!
Here’s another Smiley tip for your what ifs…
It’s written on the back of my magical and much loved Smiley Thought Cards. 👇
You might also like this blog post: 20 Helpful Tools and Habits for Soothing Anxious Children.
Thoughts are not facts!
The goal is not to eradicate the worries. Feelings are like waves – they come and go. They ebb and flow. It’s more about understanding them. Don’t let them scare you or take over. Fear is not the boss. Don’t let it hold you back.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ….
I got the contract with the council?
Well I did! 🤩 *happy dance* Imagine if I hadn’t explored other avenues and had what ifff-ed myself into staying on social media talking to tumbleweed….
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ….
We could teach kids to do this too? To empower them to become more aware of their thoughts. So when the what ifs come in, they know how to catch them and then choose to think differently.
Well we can! 🤩 *happy dance*
10 Days of Positive Self Talk
👇 That’s one each day, for the next 10 days. 👇