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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Learning to Think Constructively; Stress Management

Abstract: Gives a comparison of good and bad ways of interpreting what happens to us.

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Learning to Think Constructively; Stress Management

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info


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Question(s): 
Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 17 Aug 2008.

How do you learn to think constructively? Can this help with Stress Management?

Answer:

We interpret our surroundings continually and individually. Some people interpret them in a self-destructive way which leads to unhappiness and failure to create a good life for themselves. Others are ultimately successful with life, even though it seemed dark and hopeless at the beginning.

If you suspect that you are stuck in a self-destructive pattern of thinking, you can ask yourself if you get any benefit from thinking in this way. If not, then you are your own worst enemy. Do you really want to be a person who is always being pushed down? You can get away from it as follows:

First identify those self-destructive ideas you repeat to yourself like a broken record. Then start to practice to replace them with ideas which will help you make progress. Here is a list of examples of destructive and constructive ideas:


Self-destructive ideas:

Ideas which lead to self-fulfilment and progress:

I must be loved and get approval for everything I do. I concentrate on my own self-respect and on loving instead of being loved.
I can't help my feelings and I have no control over them. I have enormous control over my feelings and I practise saying the right things to myself.
Happiness comes through laziness and inactivity. People are happiest when they are active and engaged in creative things or when they devote themselves to others.
I need somebody bigger and stronger who can care for me and help me. It is better to stand on your own legs and get confidence in your ability to meet life's difficulties.
I need to be competent, adequate, intelligent and successful in all respects. I try to do something even if I can't be the best. I accept myself and all my limitations.
I cannot forgive myself for bad things I have done. I learn from what has happended, and use that knowledge to handle my life better in the future.
My unhappiness depends on external factors which have been forced on me by people and events. Most unhappiness is caused or maintained by personal reactions rather than the things themselves.
Anything which has affected me strongly will do so to the end of my life. I try to learn from previous experiences but I am not unnecessarily controlled by them.
What other people do is very important for me and I must make a great effort to try to make them to move in the direction I want them to go. Other people's shortcomings are largely their affair and to exert pressure on them usually helps least of all.
It is easier to avoid life's difficulties and responsibilities than to meet them head-on. The easiest way is often the hardest in the long run. The only way to solve difficult problems is to face up to them and work.
If anything is, or may be, dangerous you must be extremely worried about it. It is best to try and make it harmless, less harmful or controllable. If this is impossible, then be alert and careful, but stop wasting energy by worrying.
It is terrible when things are not the way I want them to be. Try to change or control circumstances so they get more satisfying. If that is impossible, it is better to accept the situation and stop repeating to yourself how terrible things are.
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