Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that involves restructuring the way the mind thinks and perceives situations. It connects thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Our happiness is not dependent upon an event, but the way we perceive it.
From Unchecked Negative Thoughts to Reframing
The negative thought about what happened can cause negative emotions and behavior. Often negative thought patterns are repetitive and cyclical and can cause depression, anxiety, and many other disorders. This is where CBT comes in.
CBT allows you to reframe an event in your mind and change the way you feel about it. It enables you to dispute the thought instead of just believing it. It’s about gaining freedom in the way you think and behave, and not just accepting that everything has to be negative. It’s about opening your mind to the possibility that you can be happy, and challenge the very thoughts as they occur.
How Effective Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
CBT is so powerful that it is 85% effective, more so than any other psychotherapy! CBT helped those who suffered from depression, but over time helped patients with insomnia, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and patients with cancer. It was beneficial for people with many ailments and became very popular as a method of treatment.
An exercise to show this change in thinking that is very simple:
- Take a sheet of paper and draw two vertical lines from the top to the bottom
- In the first column, write “Negative Thought” or “Disputed Thought”
- Second, “Objective Thought”
- In the third, “Positive Thought” or “Reframing Thought”
- Under Negative thought, write the exact thought word for word that you want to challenge
- Now take that same topic and write three objective thoughts, or facts that support the dispute (Why your negative thought was wrong)
- In the last column write the way you perceive the same situation given new information (reframing the thought). You ask yourself, “Is there another way of looking at this?”.
For example, I might say, “I’m fat and ugly, and nobody likes me,” spiraling out of control with self-pity. Or I can dispute that thought with facts. “I lost 30 pounds and people have given me many compliments about how I look.”
When considering this new information, I’m showing myself I can completely turn that thought around and tell myself, “I am beautiful. I am worthy”, and today will not be the day I bring myself down.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Lift Your Spirits
It will be the day you lift yourself, have confidence, and start believing the truth. That you are worthy of having positive emotions, experiences, and thoughts about yourself. You are worthy of love.
Another part of CBT involves identifying the maladaptive thoughts and behaviors, pinpointing and categorizing them.
These are the different categories of distorted thinking:
- Generalizing – concluding based on one instance or incident
- Mind-reading – We think others are constantly having negative thoughts about us
- Magnification and Filtering – We amplify negative details of a situation
- Polarized thinking – “All or nothing” attitude
- Catastrophizing – We expect disaster (having a negative mindset)
- Personification – Thinking everything that everyone else applies to us
- Blaming – Holding other people responsible for our problems
- Self-Blame – You feel responsible for all the bad things that happen around you
- Rigid Thinking – Resentful when we believe we are right and others don’t agree
Using these types, try to identify the kind(s) of thinking you experience most often. Now write how those thoughts made you feel. Then, dispute it with facts. Lastly, take the same topic and try to look at the bright side. Look at the positives. Now notice how you feel when you insert those positive thoughts supported by the truth. Keep a journal, a record of your thoughts.
Remember that just because you think something in your mind, it doesn’t always mean that thought is true, and you don’t have to believe anything you don’t want to. You choose what you believe. And you too can regain control and overcome it.
Create New Habits
Now that you see how to do this exercise, try it the next time you notice patterns of negative thought. Sometimes you will end up 4 or 5 thoughts into a “thought chain” before you realize you’re even doing it, and that’s okay! It’s a habit, but we can change it with enough time and enough practice! You can start replacing these negative thoughts every time you notice it consciously.
When your mind wanders off, use grounding methods. Remind yourself to breathe, that it’s okay. Look at your feet on the ground. Notice the sky above you. Look around at your surroundings.
Mindfulness Helps Relieve Anxiety and Tension
Being mindful of where you are and what you are doing helps you stay grounded. If you have trouble with this, try listening to a guided meditation on YouTube, or playing soothing sounds of waves, thunderstorms, or birds chirping in nature.
Learn More About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
For more information about CBT exercises, charts, and diagrams, be sure to check out the book Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Christine Wilding. You can also search for Cognitive Behavioral Therapists in your area!
For additional resources, please reach out to contact us here at Pathway Family Services!