Take your thoughts to court

"I just know it. He's been really grumpy with me around the office. And some days, he doesn't even speak to me. I just know that he's going to fire me" Annie, one of my recent clients, told me. 


She had been struggling with her manager, who was being distant and consequently giving Annie's inner critic (who she calls Michelle - no offence to any Michelle's) an absolute field day. "You're rubbish at your job - you don't even know what you're doing most of the time"."Your manager doesn't like you, he thinks that you're an incompetent fool"."You're gonna get fired any day". 

Naturally, Annie was beginning to dread going to work and felt increasingly anxious about doing her day-to-day job that not so long ago she really enjoyed. She couldn't understand where she had gone so wrong to find herself on the brink of being fired. 

And I said, "OK Annie, let's take this thought to court. I want you to imagine that you are playing the role of a Judge."

Find yourself a piece of paper and divide it down the middle. At the top of the paper I want you to write down the thought that is causing you the most anxiety. So is it that you might lose your job? Is it that your manager thinks you're incompetent? Or something else that comes to mind? 

She said that it was the fear of being fired. Great. We had what we call an automatic negative thought. 

The next step was to write down everything that supported her belief that she was going to get fired on the left-hand side of the paper. We can think of this as the line of defence. This included her boss being a bit more cold and distant recently and making a few more mistakes than usual. 

Once we had exhausted this list (which wasn't really very long) we moved onto the right-hand side, the prosecutors, and wrote down all the evidence that countered her belief. She came up with facts like her boss had been distant with her colleagues too, not just her, and that elsewhere she was receiving positive praise. That it was unlikely that just a few bad weeks would result in her being fired. That she had only made two mistakes that anyone could have made and they didn't have any larger consequences because they were quickly rectified. 

Now, like in a court of law, the Judge steps in to evaluate the evidence and issue a verdict. I encouraged her to challenge and question her automatic negative belief. To scrutinise it under a microscopic lens to see if it would hold up in a court of law. To see if there were any flaws in her inner critic's arguments. 

After a few moments of observing the situation from a neutral perspective, Annie was able to see that perhaps she was jumping to conclusions, something she was inclined to do. We explored possible alternatives as to why her manager was being more aloof and came up with practical solutions to manage the anxiety she was experiencing at work because of her tendency to overthink. 

Annie went back to work the next day feeling assured, safe, and confident in her position. She knew the tools to effectively champion her inner cheerleader to challenge her irrational mind so that she could stay grounded in reality. 

As a side note, a few months later, Annie shared with me that her boss had been distant because he was struggling with personal issues, which just goes to show, that, as much as we like to convince ourselves that we can, we simply cannot read other peoples' minds. 

I wanted to share this example as a great reminder that our thoughts are only thoughts. They are not facts. They are not true. They are not mind readers. And not everything we think is real. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is checking in with our thoughts and challenging them instead of just automatically believing them. 

It's time to take your thoughts to court. Play detective. Interrogate them. Be suspicious of them. Put them to the test. Is what these thoughts are saying true or are there some large gaping holes in their testimony?

Want to learn more about how to challenge the specific thoughts we have? Book in for a free discovery call to find out how I can empower you to shift from a place of negative thinking and low self-esteem to becoming your biggest cheerleader that knows and believes that you're more than enough just as you are. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW6 & Lymington SO41
Written by Alexandra Taylor, Holistic Life & Mindset Coach for Women
London SW6 & Lymington SO41

Alexandra, is an experienced Integrative Coach supporting her clients in overcoming their inner critic and reaching their full potential. She helps people to make the changes that they wish to make so that they can lead happier, healthier and more balanced lives.

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