When stuck in or fixated on destructive thought patterns, try and explore the opposite action. Ponder it, roll upon it. “What if it doesn’t work out” vs “What if it does work out?” Consider some more anxious thoughts that you’d have on a specific day. “What if they think bad about me?” “What if they dislike me?” “What if it’s all going to turn out terrible for me?”
Encouraging yourself to act the opposite brings you cognitive flexibility and provide a new feedback on your anxious emotion. “What do you think about them?” “Do you like them?” “What if it turns out different than I’m expecting?”
Think of a situation that may be making you anxious. Maybe your exam date is coming closer. Or you’re planning to apply for a job that you’ve always wanted. Maybe you want to look the best at your sister’s wedding. Or perhaps you want to confront someone who has betrayed you. Notice the overwhelming thoughts then play the opposite. Think about the things that may go right and how people may actually recognize and appreciate you.
Try to get familiar with acting the opposite. The more you do it, the greater would be your cognitive flexibility and ability to think and act in different ways.
How to Use this Worksheet for Opposite Action
The objective of this worksheet is to help you tackle intense anxious emotional urges, by helping you determine whether the intensity and duration of the emotion fits the facts of a situation. You may also ask yourself whether acting on your urge will be effective in the long run. Each time an emotional urge doesn’t fit the facts of a situation, you may intentionally decide to list down and perform the opposite action.
For instance, if you’re feeling depressed and wish to isolate yourself in the room, you may instead choose to take a walk out for at least 10 minutes. If you’re experiencing anger and wish to throw objects, you may choose to sit with anger until calm. Acting opposite to your emotions gives feedback to your brain that doesn’t conform with your emotion. This may ease the intensity of your emotion, such as depression, anger, or anxiety.
Explore and make a list of your emotional urges in the first column. In the second column, list down the opposite action steps that you would like to take and ensure to follow them intentionally. Repeat these mentioned actions for a couple of times until your intensity of emotions has reduced.
This A4 size PDF format worksheet could be used both as a printable page or digitally on tablet/ipad/PC/laptop. It includes six colour options, One plain + five coloured sheets. After adding in your details, the file should be downloaded to your device right away.
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Sally George is a Psychologist & the Editor of Gentle Meanings. She shares thought-provoking tools, asks insightful questions, and encourages her readers to be gentle with themselves.