If you could change something in your life, what would it be? Maybe you would like to reach a physical goal of running a Spartan race or quitting cigarettes. Maybe you would like to make a professional change, pursuing a new career or starting your own business. Maybe you would like to change a difficult relationship like a cold marriage or a dominating parent. Now, consider for a moment…what it would take to actually implement these changes? If most of us are being honest, to make these changes externally, we would have to do some work internally—on our own thoughts and perspectives. All too often, our own negative thinking holds us back more than anything else, but the truth is that these negative thought patterns can be changed. Many people are achieving life-long goals because they are changing their perspective on life. While changing one’s mindset is not as easy as flipping a switch, no one has to confront their negative thinking alone. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses upon changing people from the inside out, and many people are experiencing the power of a changed perspective.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones,
you’ll start having positive result.” —Willie Nelson
The goal of CBT is exactly what Willie Nelson describes: replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It does not focus upon external change directly but upon changing people’s perspective about a particular situation. In this process, people often find that they…
- Have far more control over their own feelings, thoughts, and actions than they previously thought.
- Establish a healthy relationship with a counselor—working closely together. The counselor may be an expert upon changing one’s outlook, but each client is an expert on their own thoughts. Together, they can often achieve significant change.
- Can focus upon a specific obstacle in their lives and establish a strategy for overcoming it.
- Learn the emotional and cognitive skills they need to focus their thoughts and emotions upon what is true and positive. These skills often benefit clients long after CBT ends.
If you are ready to make a change and you are ready for help along the way, know that Thriveworks Columbia offers cognitive behavioral therapy. Our staff specializes in CBT, and we have seen lives change when negative thinking changes.
Cognitive Distortions: Untrue, Negative Thinking
The reason that negative thoughts have so much power in people’s lives is that thoughts, feelings, and actions all affect one another. Negative thoughts often lead to self-sabotaging actions. These untrue, negative thoughts are called cognitive distortions. The first step in interrupting cognitive distortions before they escalate is usually to simply recognize them. There are many ways people could allow negative thinking to take root in their mind, but a few common ways include:
- Overgeneralization: when people draw a principle from one experience that they then apply indiscriminately and universally. When people struggle with insomnia, they may tell themselves after one restless night that I will never sleep again.
- Emotional reasoning: when people equate what they are feeling about a situation with the external reality of that situation. Many people feel responsibility when they are in no way responsible, such when codependents feel responsibility for an addict’s choices.
- Polarized thinking: when people put all of life into an all-or-nothing category. A situation is either black or white. Shades and grey are not allowed.
- Blaming: when people look for fault in every situation, all the time. Blame, however, does not always need to be doled out.
- Catastrophizing: when people just know the worst outcome possible will occur (despite evidence to the contrary). Life is always on the brink of disaster.
- Control fallacy: when people take too much control or forgo their control. People may assign their own choices to luck, fate, or the universe. On the other side, people may think they caused something that they had no connection to (like when children think they caused their parents to divorce.
- Filtering: when people negate any positive experience so that they only perceive the negative.
- Fallacy of fairness: when people compare and contrast their circumstances with others, using an arbitrary measure of what is right and fair.
What Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Do?
Once these cognitive distortions are identified, they can be adjusted. One way that CBT therapists may help their clients change their perspective on a situation is through an exercise called “The Three-Column Technique.” In this exercise, clients make three columns on a blank paper.
- In the first column, clients will record a current scenario happening in their life. For example, they may write that they turned in an assignment late at work.
- In the middle column, clients will record how they are thinking about that scenario. They may say that they are feeling inadequate and incompetent.
- In the third column, they will record truth about the situation where they can focus their attention. They may write that as an employee, this is their first late assignment. Otherwise, they have done well and met their goals. Everyone makes mistakes at times, and one mistake does not make someone incompetent.
CBT at Thriveworks Columbia
If you are ready to meet with a therapist and pursue cognitive behavioral therapy, Thriveworks Columbia has appointments available. When you work with our office, know that we offer evening and weekend appointments. We also accept most forms of insurance.
Let’s get started. Contact Thriveworks Columbia today.