Learning Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skills can be empowering and life-changing. These skills help identify and change the thought patterns that negative feelings and behaviors are rooted in. Old negative patterns of behaviors, reactions, and interactions fade when we change the underlying beliefs that are sustaining them. This can lead to growth in self-awareness that positively impacts every aspect of our lives.
To improve functioning or performance of our physical bodies, we seek to change habits, learn new exercises, engage in new activities, or perhaps seek a trainer, coach, or physical therapist. If we do not turn our focus towards the problem, identify the need for change, and decide to take action, things will remain the same and mistakes and lessons will be repeated.
The brain is like any other organ in that it can have issues that interfere with its functioning. Just like the rest of the body, repeated unhealthy habits lead to problems. In the brain, these can be problems in thinking that have developed over time. Just like our other organs, when we see problems in functioning, we look for the root and seek change or treatment to improve the quality of our lives. A problem in functioning with the brain can easily be seen in problems with emotions, behaviors, and relationships. We can get to the roots of many of these problems by thinking in different ways. This starts with turning our attention towards our own thinking.
CBT helps identify problems with thoughts that have caused or contributed to problems in life. Problems with thoughts do not mean a person is "crazy" or defective in any way; it means somewhere along our journey, we have learned and repeated thought patterns that are unhealthy for us. We have developed our own personal, unique lens of perception that we see things through. In a sense, our brains have been wired this way, so it becomes the way we operate. Thankfully, we can rewire our own brains by identifying, practicing, and repeating healthier and more rational thought patterns that help develop a new lens of perception. To develop this new, healthier outlook, we need to learn about our mental mistakes and then learn to modify them.
When we start the process of changing any habit, including unhealthy, negative thinking habits, the discomfort can lead us to believe that we are literally unable to do so, and we may start telling ourselves, "I can't do this." We will act as if this is true and give up when this happens. Unhealthy habits, including unhealthy thinking habits, become comfortable and may feel natural. We may tell ourselves, "This is just the way I am." The rational, healthier, more accurate view of a bad habit, may sound something like, "Even though I've struggled with this for a long time, in reality, change is actually possible. I'll try and find new ways of thinking and doing things to improve the quality of my life." If you decide this is true, but sounds strange and feels weird to think, it's because it hasn’t been practiced or repeated enough.
Finding our own encouraging thoughts and practicing them are the first steps to changing and breaking free from those habitual, comfortable, and self-sabotaging thoughts that we have inadvertently allowed to reside in our brains. New and healthier thoughts become natural through practice, increase positivity, and ultimately lead to an improved quality of life.
Click here for more information about CBT.