Quick and Helpful Thought Check

By Jack Fox, M.A., Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia 
Sometimes our brains get stuck on “what ifs” or thoughts that are solely negative. It’s easy to focus on the worst case scenarios that stem from some of our negative thinking, such as “If we get in a fight she is going to break up with me,” “If I don’t perform well on this presentation, I will lose my job,” or “Why should I bother trying out, I am never going to get that part.”
When those thoughts occur, a quick and often helpful way to evaluate those thoughts is to think of 3 different outcomes:

Worst Case:

Since this one occurs the most naturally, we focus on it first, but add a second question, “How can I cope with this?” Imagining the ways you could deal with even the worst case outcome helps to show you that even if the worst did happen, the world won’t end and you would be able to get through it.

Best Case:

Next, it helps to go the opposite end of the spectrum. If everything turned out exactly how you wanted it, what would that look like? This can help us think about what we are actually valuing or finding important in a given situation.

Most Realistic Case:

Finally, it helps to consider what the most realistic or probable outcome would be for the situation. Like a bell curve, the best and even worst case are not very likely to happen. Usually, the thing that is going to happen will fall somewhere in the middle of the two, and have some positives and maybe some negatives that come with it.

Finding these three cases can help calm negative thoughts through purposefully focusing on positives instead of the bad “what ifs”. Thinking about the most realistic outcome also allows us to prepare for the situation by behaving in a way that will help the most realistic outcome to occur.

About Jack Fox:

Jack graduated from the College of William and Mary with a B.S. in Psychology and recently finished his graduate work at Regent University with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Throughout his studies, Jack has seen and worked with many clients, both adolescents and adults, struggling with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, adjustment issues, and even people with a desire to get to know themselves just a little bit better! The more Jack has worked with people, the more a simple truth has come to light: You are not alone!

Jack believes that success in therapy results from a combination of understanding first what is dysfunctional, then where the dysfunction comes from. Finally, changing a behavior resulting from the thoughts or emotions driving the dysfunction can result in truly powerful changes in life. He mainly uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy, EDMR, and Solution Focused Brief Therapy to help attain the goals of his clients. Through these techniques, Jack enters into relationship with his clients and gets to understand and hear their full story, providing a safe environment for vulnerability.

To learn more about Jack, visit HERE.

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