For starters, there is the ABC method:
Learn how to untangle our thoughts, feelings and actions. Dr Albert Ellis, one of the founders of cognitive behavioural therapy, developed the A-B-C model, which is a useful way of separating your thoughts out. A is the Activating Event, or thing that happened; B is the Belief, or the thoughts that immediately run through our head; and C is for Consequences, or the emotions we feel and how we react as a result.
Here's an example of the how the same event can impact how we feel and behave and how different minds and attitudes react to both : The Activating Event is that you are working hard to meet a fast approaching deadline, and your boss has asked you twice this week about how it's going and to give you friendly reminders.
Harry's thought process is:
(B)elief--"She thinks I'm not capable of completing this job, I'm not working fast enough, I should have finished this by now and sent it to her. I can't do anything on my own that she has to continually check up on me."
(C)onsequence--Feels stressed and worried. Isn't able to concentrate on the project, self-confidence goes out the window and continues to make unnecessary mistakes.
Mary's thought process is:
(B)elief--I know this is an important project, I'm glad that she keeps checking in to make sure I have everything covered. She is so supportive and cares so much about her job and mine as well.
(C)onsequence--Feels reassured and calm. Continues to work on project and ensures it's perfect before it's sent to her boss.
It's easy to believe that when bad things happen, it's the event itself that is making us feel the way that we do. Most people don't realize that a simple shift in their emotions can change their entire day and life. Sometimes we can think a situation is actually much worse than it seems and that response to a 'negative' event can drive stronger emotions and reactions. We then begin to fall into patterns and become accustomed to this way of thinking and this can be detrimental to our happiness not only in that moment but for a lifetime. Become skilled at recognizing your thoughts in response to things that happen to you. If they really are negative events that you endure, I'm not saying to brush them off just to be happier and positive. Look at the situation for what it truly is, understand the consequences and what caused those actions to happen. You then have two options to proceed with: dwell on the negative and let it eat you up or let it drive you to work that much harder to prove that you're better than the event that you experienced. If we can become skilled at recognizing our thoughts in response to the things that happen and knowing when these are inaccurate, we can become better at managing our emotional responses and choosing the appropriate reactions.
Photograph by Josh and Meg