Last time I wrote I was feeling very depressed. On top of being unemployed – and old – I was thinking my wife was going to leave me when I ran out of money.
I talked to my therapist and did a Thought Challenge exercise and I feel a little bit more optimistic now. More important than optimism, I am feeling more in control of my life.
The first step was becoming aware that my feelings of sadness and anger have a lot to do with the negative thought “When I run out of money she’ll leave me”. I was not conscious of this negative thought. I had to ask myself what her comments meant to me that made me feel so upset. I interpreted her comment that “everything will be OK” as a threat to leave me if things were not OK. That’s what was so depressing and irritating about it.
So will she leave me?
I started this Thought Challenge exercise by writing down all the evidence and facts that support the idea that if I can’t find a job she’ll leave me. I wrote down examples of moments when she has left the house to get a break from me. This helped me see that if she indeed leaves me it will have more to do with my temper than my lack of funds.
Then I wrote down evidence against the idea that she’ll leave me. It helped me see our relationship in the context of our many years together and all that we’ve been through.
I finished this Thought Challenge by writing down a more balanced and neutral statement: “If I stay this irritable my wife might start avoiding me more, but she probably will never leave me. It is up to me how much I isolate myself.”
Here’s a picture of this CBT exercise: