Guest Author - Tracy Hamilton
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) has been widely praised for the benefits it is bringing people experiencing stress, depression, anxiety and other more challenging mental health issues.
It has been proven helpful for challenging our thought processís, questioning why we are thinking in the way we do and assists with noticing how our actions and feelings change depending on the thoughts we are having.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is gaining considerable attention, and is being hailed as a way to help bring peace and awareness to people who are otherwise caught in their thoughts, and experiencing dysfunctional thought patterns.
It works by bringing awareness to our thoughts which then allow us to challenge our thinking. The CBT Triangle consists of three sections; thoughts and cognitive processes, behaviours, feelings and emotions.
The triangle allows us to trace how our thoughts and thinking processís affect our behaviour and in turn how we feel. When we identify what thoughts we are having. We can then gauge how they make us act and feel.
For example, if I have the thought that Monday is a horrible day and work always seems worse on Monday than any other day; I might feel reluctant to get up and go to work, feel depressed about the day ahead and act in ways that are not conducive to having a good day.
Our beliefs are so powerful that they cause us to behave in certain ways according to the belief they stemmed from.
Hereís a technique to try when struggling with making sense of your thinking patterns:
* Notice the thoughts you are thinking; are they over critical, seeing only the negative and projecting the worse case scenario?
* Ask yourself; what must I believe that is contributing to this thinking pattern?
* Ask yourself what triggered your negative thinking spiral?
Once you have ascertained what the thoughts are that are causing your challenges start to look at how they are making you feel and look at the behaviours they instills:
* Ask yourself, when I think in this way how do I feel? Is it helpful?
* How do I act when I feel this way? Isolated, despondent, withdrawn.
* Do I lack structure to my day? How can I manage this better to stop this pattern perpetuating itself?
Doing this allows us to see how we are keeping our spiral alive. When we feel depressed we are likely to avoid social situations, isolate ourselves and withdraw from others. It is typical to avoid things and create social isolation.
When we can ascertain the difference between our thoughts and feelings we can start to change the thoughts we have rather than how they make us feel. The below can help you to differentiate between the two :
* Feelings are sensations and moods, and are one word; anger, sadness, joy, anxious etc
* Thoughts are phrases, and consist of worry and anxiety of a projected future or upset from the past.
The thoughts create the feelings, and understanding the thoughts can alleviate how we feel about them.