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Do you have disturbing thoughts?  Asking yourself these questions can calm them down

Do you have disturbing thoughts? Asking yourself these questions can calm them down

If you regularly practice Socratic questioning, this technique can help you become more aware

Do irrational thoughts invade your mind from time to time, making you feel anxious or perhaps even on the verge of having a panic attack?

What can calm your nerves is to ask yourself a series of questions that challenge the validity and perspective of those troubling thoughts – this process is known as Socratic questioning. Named after Socrates, the influential Greek philosopher known for asking others questions to help them improve their thinking and get closer to the truth, it is a common technique that therapists teach patients in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Dr. Daniel R. says: Strunk, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, says reframing your mindset is important because “the powerful influence your thoughts have on your emotions is because you believe them, not because they are necessarily true.” , By email.

“So, if we allow ourselves to believe uncomfortable things that aren't quite true, it makes our love lives more difficult,” he added.

Although Socratic questioning is a tool used in cognitive behavioral therapy, you don't need a therapist to practice it — but a professional can be helpful in solving problems and achieving goals in a way that many people find difficult to do on their own. Dr. James Overholser, a clinical psychologist and professor of depression and suicide at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said in an email.

Here's how to approach some commonly used questions in the Socratic Method. The questions and wording may vary depending on the supplier, therapist or patient's experience, experts say, but the goal is the same.

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Work on your personal perceptions

The lesson of Socratic questioning is not that emotional suffering is only or always the result of an inaccurate perspective — but only that this bias can intensify and contribute to suffering, according to Strunk.

Individual subjectivity is why two people facing the same challenge may have different emotional experiences and reactions – one may feel negative and defeated, while the other sees the situation as an opportunity for personal growth or showing kindness.

When you want to apply Socratic questioning to uncomfortable thoughts or beliefs, start by writing the thought down.

Maybe you're worried that you'll embarrass yourself or fail during your next presentation at work.

To better understand the thinking and beliefs behind it, ask yourself what is so upsetting about the scenario, Strunk said. You may think that people will think you are incompetent or that you will get fired.

Then consider the first question: What is the evidence for or against this thought?

a investigation Strunk said that people with mental health problems usually have some biases and inaccuracies in the way they think. Those with depression, for example, may view events in a very negative way, while people with anxiety often They view threats as more likely and likely. More disastrous than it would actually be.

“In cognitive behavioral therapy, clients learn that their thoughts in moments of strong emotion are very important,” Strunk said. “By learning to recognize these thoughts and subject them to close scrutiny, clients learn a very important survival strategy for dealing with negative emotions: accurately assessing their situation rather than accepting their initial opinions in the heat of the moment without question.”

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Remember how many times people have been fired for bad presentations before. You might think about positive comments your boss or colleagues have given you about your contributions in the past, or even how they reacted to your mistakes.

You might say to yourself, “My coworkers know that I contribute positively to the business in many ways. I got a good performance review last quarter and Sally thanked me for being so helpful with her Jones account last week.” “It helps to be specific and make a strong argument,” Strunk said. You should look for evidence that will convince you, even when you are more inclined toward your negative views.”

Adjust your perspective

Second, ask yourself if there is an alternative way of looking at the situation.

“Attitude is important in influencing our emotions and behaviors,” Overholser said. “We interpret situations, have expectations for the future, and have personal opinions about ourselves and our abilities. All of these cognitive factors are fundamental to most aspects of our lives.”

In this case, you can remember that feeling nervous before a presentation and being judged by others is normal, even for experienced speakers.

Furthermore, what would you say to a loved one who came to you with the same idea?

“You can say something like: ‘You know you're a good employee for them — and they really appreciate your work.'” Many people worry about presentations. “You'll do a better job than you think,” Strunk said.

By controlling your views, according to Strunk, you can often reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions and thus be better able to deal with difficulties.

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Practice Socratic questioning regularly

Other common Socratic questions may include the following, although some can be adapted to suit each patient's experience:

  • Am I basing this thought on facts or feelings?
  • Do I jump to conclusions or resort to the worst-case scenario?
  • Could I be misinterpreting the evidence? Am I making assumptions?
  • If you look at this situation more positively, how is it different?
  • Will this matter a year from now? In five years?
  • Could other people have different interpretations of this situation?

The Therapist Aid resource site has Free printable with 10 Socratic questions Which you can use to challenge irrational thoughts. Another way to learn about this approach is to read the book “Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think” – “Mind Over Mood: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Guide for the Therapist” in Portuguese – by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padeski, recommended by Strunk.

Practice questions can also help you become more aware in general if you do it consistently.

“I would encourage people who are trying to learn how to reevaluate their thoughts to try different questions,” Strunk said. “You may find that some of them are particularly effective for you.”