Cognitive Behavior Therapy CBT, is not just for people looking how to deal with depression and anxiety, but those of us who are going through difficult life issues such as divorce, low self esteem, confidence issues, grief, guilt, worry, anger etc. that can in themselves trigger depression.
Dr Aaron T. Beck a psychologist from Pennsylvania first discovered cognitive behavior therapy back in the 60’s.
One of the most important points of his study was that he discovered people who suffer from depression have a stream of negative thoughts that happen consistently and automatically.
Mr. Burns confirms that only 16% of depression is due to genetic influences the rest is life influences
Cognitive or cognition is a thought or perception…put simply it is the way you think about anything at any one moment.
They happen in such a way that they seem beyond the control of the patient.
The phrase “automatic thoughts” was used to explain this phenomenon.
Of cause everyone has automatic thoughts. It’s out default position we go to whenever something happens to us.
It’s finding out what has just happened (the trigger) as we go through our daily life and what has sent us into a bad place. What was the “automatic thought” you had?
Negative thoughts could be put into three categories. Negative thoughts about themselves, negative thoughts about the world around them, and negative thoughts about the future.
Documented research shows that the automatic negative thoughts that cause your emotional turmoil, nearly always contain gross distortions.
Twisted thinking is the cause of your suffering.
The way CBT works is to get the person to think completely differently about the thoughts in their head and to actually reprogram the way they think.
CBT helps us look at our daily thoughts, then in turn what we feel and then in turn how we act.
This is also why CBT is used for other mental health issues such as addictions and eating disorders, and getting to the route fear (thought) that is causing you so much unhappiness.
You Cannot Have a Positive Life With Negative Thoughts.
To change our negative thinking and behaviors we first have to acknowledge and be on board with the idea that it is primarily your thoughts that are the route cause of your suffering.
This will be a tall order for a lot of people who will be convinced that it is something more substantial and complex!
But – for some it will come as a great relief because all they ever wanted was an answer to their problems and in turn the relief that can bring.
At the core of your inability to heal is this belief that your problems are unique and beyond repair. It is a belief and nothing more.
There are ten Cognitive Distortions, and it is important that you except, acknowledge and explore these ten Cognitive Distortions that are the basis for all depression, anxieties and emotional issues.
Authors of CBT such as Tom Shepherd call these distortions by different titles i.e. Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Melodrama, The Fallacy of change, Blame, Extreme Personalization, Fallacies of Control, Fallacies of Fairness, Karma. Heavens Fallacy.
Even though the titles are not necessarily the same they all come together within the same group of meanings.
David D. Burns, MD in his book Feeling Good, the new mood therapy, (a great favorite of mine) titles these Cognitive distortions differently and explains them each in great detail. Read my review here of his amazing book.
Here is an example of two of David Burns Cognitive Distortions.
“Emotional Reasoning” is one of the Cognitive Distortions that fulfills the idea that you see your problems as unique and beyond repair.
“Emotional Reasoning” is when you take your emotions as evidence of the truth.
Your logic…I feel like a fraud therefore I am a fraud.
Or – I am feeling guilty so I must be bad.
“Emotional Reasoning” was at the route of my distorted thinking i.e. “I feel overwhelmed and hopeless” therefore my problems must be impossible to solve, and therefore I am not enough”.
There are also probably more than one Cognitive Distortions that would be applicable and also cover this particular distorted thinking as well.
Overgeneralization is quite often a common distortion and definately was one of my distortions.
When I was a small child I came home upset from an incident at school, and because my Mother did not show an appropriate response to my distress and not reacted the way I thought she should and would, it left me feeling very lonely and isolated.
That wouldn’t have been such a problem if I hadn’t carried on that feeling of loneliness and isolation well into my middle age.
WHAT WE DWELL ON IS WHO WE BECOME.
Why? Because your negative thoughts are the most frequently overlooked symptoms of your depression and anxiety.
Most therapy places a lot of emphasis on getting in touch with your feelings, but research has shown Depression is not an emotional problem.
Every bad feeling you have is a result of your distorted thinking.
That is something someone depressed will not want to hear. They will be adamant their depression is unique to them and beyond
I had over the years spent a lot of time in a therapist’s office going over the same old so called bad memories knowing what had happened in my life to make me feel so miserable and depressed but never actually altering the fact that I was still depressed.
In fact going over the same old ground reliving those episodes in my life had done nothing for me other than took me back to all those old emotions and unhappy episodes and left me leaving their office feeling even more depressed and despondent.
Believing something doesn’t make it true.
The way you are feeling is to do with the way you are thinking…nothing more nothing less!
I know or have known how hard that is to get your head around that fact because it feels so bloody real.
But here is another truth…your feelings account for nothing, except as an idea to what you are thinking, and the fact that you believe them!!
It is a cycle you have been trapped in for days, weeks, months, or as in my case – years!!
Every emotion you ever felt would have resulted first from a thought you had.
That’s why these negative thoughts are called “automatic thoughts” because they are such an unconscious part of your life, that they are automatic.
It’s us that makes them something more than they are, our distorted interpretation, from a belief that we have decided is true…a belief is just a perception, ours or someone else’s.
CBT acknowledges and understands that your mind is going between thinking feeling and acting.
The best way to do this is to look at yourself in the 3rd person, as if you are on the outside looking in. The whole exercise is to look at every evidence objectively.
Get curious as to why you might have said, felt so certain about a situation that has happened.
It just means you will have to reapply the techniques that have helped you.
For it to really work you must be aware and acknowledge what is called Cognitive Distortions.
Cognitive Distortions are one the most common automatic thoughts, where people tend to overwhelmingly concentrate on a negative aspect.
Is it safe for depressed individuals to help themselves using the principles outlined by the Cognitive Behavior Principle… the answer is yes, because you have cracked the first crucial step…to help yourself is the key to help you heal.
Even though we may have help and support with our healing, the majority of the work is down to us and in particular our willingness to be active in our own recovery.