Positive Psychology – Challenging Unhelpful Thinking

Positive psychology asserts that our thinking is an important factor contributing to our emotional wellbeing. Consciously recognising our emotional states is the precondition to improving them. ‘Awareness,’ they say, ‘is the first step toward change and better problem solving.’

Over the next few weeks, when we notice an unhelpful thought, see if we can test it. Challenge it by asking ourselves: Is there any evidence that supports this thought? Is there any evidence that contradicts this thought? What would I say to a friend having this thought in a similar situation? What are the costs and benefits of thinking this way? How will I feel in six months time? Is there another way of looking at this situation?

(For more on challenging unhelpful thoughts click here)

Teaching kids to use evidenced based thinking can also help them deal with ‘unhelpful’ thoughts. Similar strategies include, looking for evidence and cross checking with others to get a second opinion and thinking about what you would say to a friend having similar thoughts. Understanding and acknowledging that how you think affects how you feel, helps children see that they have the power to affect their feelings.

Below is a simple example of a ‘Thought Detective’ activity we can use, to help children challenge unhelpful thinking.

Situation – I made a mistake

Feeling – I’m stupid

Supporting Evidence – It’s not the first time I’ve made a mistake.

Non-supporting evidence – I did well in my maths activity. I’ve seen lots of people make mistakes and I don’t think they’re stupid. My teacher says we often learn best from our mistakes

What I would say to a friend – I think you are good at maths and art, so do others. Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes help us learn.

Better thought – Although I made a mistake, I can learn from it and help others who are making the same mistake.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world…

How Full Is Your Bucket from Prep A

Prep, while massaging the shoulders of other preps, “I’m filling everyone’s buckets!”

Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator