I got a good laugh when I saw this meme. I think the caption really captures what Drake might have been doing at that moment, but what’s truly humorous is how we all do this from time to time.
Your day could be going perfectly fine and then, BAM, you’re suddenly lost in a negative thought that changes your entire mood.
As a psychologist, I teach my clients about a concept called Automatic Thoughts, which is exactly what it sounds like. That is, a thought that pops into your head automatically. Sometimes thoughts occur so automatically that we may not even realize that we are having them until we notice a change in our mood.
I also teach my clients about what I categorize as a more debilitating thought process, Cognitive Distortion, which are patterns of thinking that we know from research are likely to lead to depression and anxiety.
Be it an Automatic Thought or a Cognitive Distortion, I show clients how both can be used as signals to get out of their head.
The scenario may look a little something like this – you’re sitting around on a relaxing Sunday afternoon, and then you notice yourself feeling down. What’s the Automatic Thought going through your mind? “This week is going to be horrible.”
Well, that’s a good old Cognitive Distortion called Fortunetelling (i.e., predicting what will happen in the future in a negative way). Once you notice that you are caught up in that particular distortion, you should use that recognition as a signal to STOP that train of thought.
One way of stopping it is to speak back to it - “Well, yeah, work has been challenging, but I can’t predict with absolute certainty that my week is going to be horrible.” You have the power to let that one thought predict the rest of your Sunday or even your entire week or you could empower yourself to get out of that frame of mind. Which one would you choose?