Cognitions are the way a person interprets events, images, thoughts and attitudes. Changing the way we think can change our mood. (This does not mean thinking positively but by thinking and acting realistically and learning to challenge unhelpful beliefs we have picked up over our lives). Behaviour therapy emphasises our habituated responses to things and the way in which our behaviour is shaped by its consequences (e.g. confidence, assertiveness, phobias and obsessions).
Old habits die hard!
Once we habituate certain ways of viewing ourselves, others and the world; and behaving in response to these views; it feels like these are just part of our personality. They’re not! They are learned responses that we can retrain to be more helpful to us.
Challenge your thoughts
All too often we accept our views (worries, fears or unhappiness) and actively avoid change. Even if unhappy inside this comfort zone, it seems safer to stay there than venture out. We need to be more prepared to challenge our thoughts and beliefs and try new ways of interpreting situations. This is the way we find new ways of better managing situations and not repeating the same mistakes.
Practice makes perfect
When we try new things and discover new ways of looking at life, to begin with this feels awkward because we move outside our comfort zone. As with any new skill, the more we practice the easier it will become, to the point when it feels natural to do things the new way (remember how it felt to learn to drive?)
Make plans (and stick to them)
The awkwardness we feel practicing new skills can put us off doing them (beware the unhelpful habits of escape and avoidance). Planning and scheduling activities makes it more likely we will push ourselves to stick to them (and therefore less likely we avoid them). Soon the whole new routine will feel natural to us.
CBT is an effective evidence-based brief psychological intervention, proven to be successful in the treatment of a whole range of issues; from Anxiety, Depression, Panic disorder, Performance Anxiety, OCD, Chronic Pain, PTSD, Addictions etc etc and is considered by the National Institute of clinical Excellence as a first line treatment for most psychological disorders (see www.nice.org.uk/ for further information)
Tim Martin, Accredited CBT & EMDR Psychotherapist.