Challenging Your Negative Thoughts

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA

During this uncertain time we all may be more prone to depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem. Irrational negative thoughts could be the culprit!

Since many of us are stuck at home, social media use has been on the rise. We may accomplish one thing, feel good about ourselves and then hop online to feel one-upped by family and friends. This can make us feel as though we are horrible in various arenas of life, when in reality we are simply allowing irrational thoughts about our performances dictate how we feel about ourselves. Challenging these irrational thoughts can help us change them. 

Answer the following questions to assess your negative thought:  

  • Is there substantial evidence to my thought? (Remember when it comes to social media not everything is as it seems!) 
  • Is there evidence contrary to my thought? 
  • Am I attempting to interpret this situation without all the evidence? 
  • What would a trusted friend or family member think about this situation? 
  • If I look at the situation positively, how is it different? 
  • Will this matter a year from now? How about five years from now? 

Nobody is perfect, it is human nature to be hard on ourselves and it is good to hold ourselves to high standards, however not to the point where we feel depressed, have low self esteem or our anxiety holds us back. I too, struggle with negative thoughts now and then! I always have a bunch of copies of this list of questions in my desk drawer. Whenever I find myself fixating on a negative thought, I make the time to sit down, fill in the blanks and reflect. Most of the time I can recognize that it is an irrational negative thought and can alter my thinking to see the reality of the situation.  

Remember to be kind and forgiving to yourself! 

About Shelton Piland:

Day to day life can be exhausting, stressful and anxiety inducing. It is easier said than done to “enjoy the little things in life” when we have so many outside pressures weighing on us. When we feel overwhelmed by these pressures our mental health and personal relationships can suffer. Shelton hopes to assist you and yours in managing difficult times and strengthening your relationships.

Shelton is a Resident in Clinical Social Work and will be providing services in the Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. She received her Masters in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system, as well as with veterans and their families at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. She is certified in Motivational Interviewing and in Inter-Professional Collaboration. Shelton has experience working with individuals, children, couples, families, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, and hospice patients.

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