Cognitive therapy – can thoughts really change how you feel?
Cognitive therapy (CBT) is a way of identifying typical and recurring thought patterns and establishing more productive ways of thinking.
The premise on which cognitive therapy is based is that cognition’s (or thoughts) directly affect our feelings and so are directly related to anxiety, depression and associated obsessive -compulsive behaviours. If negative thought patterns can be changed and replaced with more positive, self-affirming thoughts, our well being can be increased, our horizons widened and we increase our belief in creating lives that are pleasurable and meaningful.
But why do we establish negative thought patterns?
We inherit many of our ways of thinking from the people who have influenced us over our lives. That is why our parents and family are so influential in how we think, despite now being adult and probably living away from them. It is as if a template is set very early, against which we assess and process things. If we learnt to say things like ‘That will never work. I am a failure. People let you down. You can’t trust strangers’ etc, then this becomes our typical response to the world. Even if we try to change such thoughts, often our subconscious intervenes and influences the type of people and situations we attract to confirm the negative scenario.
Next time you enter a new situation, write down your typical reactions aftterwards. Are they positive or negative? Self-affirming or self-deprecating?
What are your reactions to difficult situations or where others have let you down? Do you blame others saying ‘Told you so – this is typical’ or do you say things like ‘This is unfortunate, what can I learn from this to avoid attracting this again?’
See how the latter reaction is positive and empowering and the former reaction keeping you stuck at the mercy of others. Cognitive behaviour therapy can assist you from naturally reacting negatively to positively. Imagine how great life would be then? What opportunities or people could you then attract that could transform your life?