6 steps to relieving your distressed thinking are:
Accept your thoughts. This does not mean believing them. It simply means taking note of them and accepting that they exist.
Assess your thoughts by stepping back to observe them and considering whether they match what you intellectually believe. You might realize that the thoughts are expressing your emotions even when the reality does not seem to match them. It can be helpful to consciously acknowledge that even when a thought feels true, this does not make it true.
Understanding your thoughts is also frequently helpful. As you reflect on – and try to make sense of – your thoughts, you can gain better insight into them.
Empathy frequently occurs naturally when you can truly understand your thinking. With an awareness of where your thinking is coming from, you can connect with related feelings – even when you don’t believe your thoughts. For instance, recognising your history of being bullied as a teen can help you to empathise with your current fear of being rejected by a supportive friend.
Compassion is a natural extension of empathising with emotional distress. You can easily empathise with feeling happy based on certain thoughts. By contrast, compassion can definitely help to ease painful thoughts. For example, you may feel hopelessly doomed if you are constantly visited by the thought, No one will ever want to be friends with me. Even if your assessment of this thought is that it is not necessarily as true as it feels, it will cause you pain. Responding to that pain with a compassionate thought – such as, It’s so sad that I feel this way – can be healing.
Leslie Becker Phelps.