When you think of your daily habits, you might think of your morning routine to get ready for the day, or the things you do before going to bed. Maybe you always stop to treat yourself to coffee on the way to work on Monday mornings, or perhaps you're trying to build the habit of consistently exercising four times a week. Humans are creatures of habit, meaning that we naturally create routines in several (or all) parts of our lives.
However, habits can be more than just behaviors – they can be thoughts, too. Do you look in the mirror and instantly look for imperfections? Or when you mess up, you immediately judge yourself? Do you jump to worst-case-scenario conclusions after hearing one piece of bad news? These negative thought-habits manifest themselves in the exact same way behavioral habits or routines do – they happen automatically, without even consciously thinking about it.
It's no surprise that the way we feel is dictated by the way we think.
The good news is that we can practice questioning these negative thoughts in order end the cycle of pessimistic or judgmental feelings. I'm sure you're thinking, "But Lauren, how do I just not think negatively or not judge myself so quickly?"
This is where Socratic Questioning comes in! Socratic Questions are questions you can ask yourself to really examine a thought and assess whether it is a valid concern. By recognizing the imperfections in our thoughts, we can change them! Using these questions can really help you step back from your thoughts and gain some clarity despite your zooming mind. This method is even used by licensed therapists to help their patients! Some examples of Socratic Questions include:
Am I making any assumptions?
What is the evidence for this thought? What is the evidence against it?
Am I basing this thought on facts, or feelings?
Is my thought a likely scenario, or the worst case scenario?
Will this matter in a year, even if the worst outcome comes true? How about five years?
What would you say to a friend who felt the same way?
Could my thought be an exaggeration of what is true?
Have you ever been in a similar situation before? How did that turn out?
Investigating negative thoughts can help us gain a new perspective, and can reduce the negative emotions you feel. Whenever you notice yourself jumping to conclusions, take a moment to ask yourself a few Socratic Questions. Let's create a new habit of embracing optimistic thinking and invalidating negative thoughts. Your mood will surely shift as your mindset evolves
Thank you so much for reading! Lauren