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Surviving Affairs and Infidelity Article

Three Steps to Clearing Your Mind from Negative Thoughts After the Affair

Dr. Frank Gunzburg
Baltimore Maryland

What follows is a 3-step program for looking at your negative thoughts, challenging the believability of these thoughts, and replacing them with more self-affirming statements. If you tend toward skepticism, it might be difficult for you to believe that these techniques are effective. However, these techniques are adapted from the core of cognitive therapy, a psychotherapeutic healing modality that has proven effective in helping people that suffer from all kinds of negative thinking in study after study. Please take your time and work through each step completely. If you do this, you will amplify the effect of the work that we are about to do.

Step 1: Track Your Thoughts

Thoughts drive your feelings. When you think about something negative you tend to feel bad. On the other hand, if you think about something positive, you tend to feel good. This is simply common sense. Everyone knows this.However, when you are wrapped up in difficult, negative emotions, it isn’t always easy to see what thoughts are behind your painful feelings. When you have been injured in an affair, this is often the case. You are so overcome with feelings of betrayal and rage that you sometimes fail to see what thoughts are behind these feelings.If you feel like you are having a hard time distinguishing your thoughts from your feelings, or even one thought from another, thought tracking can be an immense help to you. Even if you don’t seem to have these kinds of problems, this first step will help you get a good track record of what you are thinking and will allow you the opportunity to see if there are any consistent patterns to your thoughts.

Step 2: Challenging the Believability of Your Thoughts

Now that you have a fairly good record of your negative thoughts about the affair and you have examined various patterns in your thinking, it is time to start challenging these thoughts.In order to do this, we are going to take various negative thoughts you had over the last week and put them to a reality test. You can certainly use this process for thoughts that are coming up for you right now as well. However, it is useful to start practicing this skill on a thought you already recorded. Once you hone the skill, you can put it to use at your command.

The Reality Test

Choose one of your challenging recurring negative thoughts. The thought that you choose should bring up some discomfort and negative feelings for you. Our goal in this part of the exercise will be to undermine that discomfort by disproving the reality of the thought.Write down the thought you have chosen to work with. Then, ask yourself the following questions:

»        How realistic or logical is this thought in the world at large?»        Is there an argument against the thought?»        What actual evidence do I have that this thought is true?»        Even if it were true, what would it practically mean for me and my situation right now?

Try and answer these questions as objectively as you can.

Step 3: Using Self-Affirmations

Self-talk is a powerful influence on the way people think, feel, and act. Self-talk is the stuff we internally say about ourselves all the time. Everyone has a certain amount of self-talk going on most of the time. We constantly judge ourselves and talk to ourselves (in our minds) about these judgments.In today’s society, the idea that you can “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative” makes most of us shudder a bit. We are cynical and skeptical enough to believe that any attempt at encouraging positive thinking in our lives is a losing battle. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing can help you more in your situation than to remind yourself that you are a worthwhile, lovable person. Of course, we will temper these self-affirmations with a bit of reality. I am not going to try and have you convince yourself that you are the single greatest person on the planet and that you deserve to be the queen or king. It is unlikely you would buy that anyway. But I am guessing that right now you are feeling more like the lowest person on the earth, and that isn’t a healthy or realistic place for you to be.

What I would like for you to do is take the same thought that we worked with in the last exercise. Do some reality testing on it as you did before. Ask yourself whether the thought is realistic or logical and whether you can find an argument against it. See what evidence you have to support the thought, and what would practically change for you if the thought were true.


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First Name

Dr. Frank Gunzburg is a licensed counselor in Maryland and has been specializing is helping couples restore their marriage for over 30 years. He is also the author of How to Survive an Affair, a step-by-step healing system that can help a couple repair their relationship after it has been shattered from an affair.

If your relationship has been damaged by an affair and you would like a step-by-step system for repairing your relationship, then please visit Dr. Gunzburg's site for more information:

This article was used by permission from How to Survive An Affair:
The Seven Emotional Trials the Cheater Will Face




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