Our memory bank consists of both positive and negative experiences, thoughts and expectations, but when negativity becomes a habit, the positive thoughts can get pushed to the background and put on mute. When that happens all you are left with is the idea that you are not going to have a good experience, with all sorts of reasons backing up why that will be true.
What that leads to is a fear that stops all motivation to get out and enjoy life. It might be just one area of your life that is impacted, although negative thoughts can also take over other situations and start to limit everything you do as well as take a toll on your self-confidence and even physical health. If you are experiencing these negative impacts in life, it’s time to get help.
What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy technique that aims to help identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and teach self-help strategies. These strategies are designed to bring immediate positive changes that are especially effective in the treatment of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The role of a CBT therapist is to help unmute the positive memories and thoughts that already exist in a person’s mind and bring them to the surface. This way a person gains more choice over their emotions and gets a say in what direction their day takes.
Negative thoughts can trigger a negative cycle of; I expect to fail, I succeed in failing, I feel bad about myself, while positive thoughts lead to more positive feelings and behaviours of; I expect I can do something, I succeed, I feel great about myself.
What can CBT help with
CBT is a proven therapy for anxiety. Because CBT is about adjusting thoughts and creating awareness around how a person views a situation it can be applied to a wide variety of situations and help in minor through to significant challenges a person might be facing.
A qualified therapist will help you apply the techniques to the issues you are experiencing such as:
- Negative mindset
- Jumping to conclusions
- Seeing situations as catastrophic
- Labelling events and situations as good or bad
- Living in high states of stress, anxiety or depression
- Unhelpful avoidance patterns like OCD, isolation and substance abuse
11 tips on how to get started with CBT
Getting started with CBT is as simple as deciding it’s time to do things differently. Here are eleven tips to get started;
- Identify that you have unwanted patterns holding you back from achieving your goals.
- Know it’s okay to ask for help, no matter if it’s severe or minor.
- Look for a therapist with a bachelor’s, master’s, or postgraduate degree in psychology
- If possible find a professional who has completed further studies in CBT
- Be open and honest about what you are feeling, thinking and experiencing.
- Take their suggestions seriously. They might question your thoughts or suggest there are errors in your thinking, rather than get defensive, think about how this might be true.
- Start to ask yourself empowering questions throughout your day.
- Whenever you can compliment yourself, give yourself a pat on the back and think nice thoughts about what you can achieve
- Identify what behaviours are automatic based on negative beliefs and think about outcomes you would prefer to see instead.
- Take notice of what other people do, how they act and what experiences they have
- Do your homework. Your therapist will be setting small and gentle challenges to help you practice good habits so they become automatic. Make sure you do the activities and if you have any doubts or hesitations, let them know.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy teaches you more helpful behaviours to combat the barrage of negative thoughts than can unknowingly take over and dictate how you live your life. As negative thoughts and feelings reduce, you are able to enjoy social situations and new activities. The result is more confidence, a sense of choice and control as well as improved quality of life.