CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a type of talking therapy used to help people deal with anxiety and depression but its core principles I think can help us all in dealing with our day to day lives and improving our mood.
One thing that CBT teaches is that our thoughts are reactions to the stimuli around us. A thought will be triggered by an event (or even a feeling), our brain interprets the event and our behaviours and emotions are the consequence of that interpretation. A mild example would be that you try to acknowledge someone you know but they ignore you as they walk past. You believe they are doing that because they are ignoring you which makes you feel upset or angry.
CBT encourages you actively question that belief. It wants you to ask “why did that person not respond? Maybe they had a lot on their mind, maybe they were in a hurry, maybe they simply didn’t see me” rather than you just assuming they ignored you. This will hopefully stop the negative feeling or emotion that follows the feeling of being ignored.
People also get into ‘unhelpful thinking patterns’ which can be divided into the following 10 catagories:
Mental Filter: This is where peoples minds filter what is coming into it so the person only notices the negative. Positive things are simply dismissed by the person as irrelevant.
Mind-Reading: One I’m sure we are all guilty of, we assume we know what other people are thinking about us.
Prediction: We think we can predict the outcome of an event before it has actually happened.
Compare and dispair: We only see the good aspects in others and compare ourselves negatively to them.
Critical Self: Putting ourselves down
(an example of the 4 above would be “oh I can’t ask Jane out because she will say no because she thinks i’m really ugly. I’m sure she would much rather go out with John who is a lot more muscley than I am!” You don’t know until you’ve asked!)
Shoulds and Musts: Not really one I believe in myself as I think that this is a helpful thought but setting up unrealistic expectations puts a lot of pressure on us.
Emotional Reasoning: Put simply, if you feel bad about a situation then it must be bad or if you feel anxious then you must be in danger.
Making Mountains of Molehills: Exaggerating the risk of something. Or exaggerating the negatives in a situation.
Catastrophising: Imagining that the worst possible thing will happen.
Black and White thinking: Believing that someone or a situation can can only be good or bad.
It’s worthwhile keeping these in mind as when your thoughts run away with you you can think “Oh I’m catastrophising” or “Oh I’m being too critical of myself here”
If you want any further information about CBT be sure to check out the website Beating the Blues. Beating the Blues contains a lot of useful tools and classes to help get you started with CBT
Thanks for reading