Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Misti)
- How powerful are our thoughts?
When you think about something difficult, like a recent loss or a dark thought, do you feel your palms sweat? Does your chest feel tight? For some, your hearts may race. Our bodies shift physically with a mere thought. Our thoughts are that powerful. They are powerful enough to physically affect your body.
- Dark thoughts:
A deep wound from the past, or trigger, can activate a response. With practice, you can learn to become more in tune with your body and mind. Self discovery and turning inward is a way to navigate what is causing these feelings. Having awareness will make it easier to address each time, thus making your mental health more manageable.
According to apa.org, Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness.
CBT is based on several core principles, including:
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
Keep in mind that we have learned or not learned many behaviors and coping skills based on our upbringing, based on our parent’s upbringing, and so forth. As a whole, many of us are conditioned to behave or exist based on society’s standards. Are you a people pleaser? Is your personality authentic or what society thinks it should be? Are your connections authentic or superficial? Are you surrounding yourself with people you feel aligned with?
Disconnection with your authentic self can feel isolating.
Book recommendation: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- What went right today?
I often think about “what if”. My therapist said that this is anxiety-inducing, as I am living in a reality of moments that haven’t even happened. We can’t change the past or control the future. My therapist suspects that I think this way because I am trying to mentally prepare myself for whatever bad thing will happen next. She suggested CBT to retrain my mindset. Instead, to ask myself: What went right today? What am I grateful for right now?
- Finding meaning:
Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief,” David Kessler, a grief expert. “Meaning comes through finding a way to sustain your love for the person after their death while you’re moving forward with your life. Loss is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.”
What you focus on you get more of.
You can keep a journal. The point of a journal is reflection in one form or another on how you think. You can analyze what you write and process emotions and trauma from specifically designed prompts, or brain dumping and consciousness stream writing. That’s when you just write. It doesn’t have to make sense, it’s literally a brain dump—whatever needs to come out does. Then you’re free of it and can do whatever you like with it: whether that’s throw it in the trash, or burn it, or save it to discuss with your therapist.
If I’m particularly angry, I can journal about things I’m grateful for. It’s nearly impossible to be angry and consciously thankful at the same time. If I’m feeling particularly anxious, I can write my grounding to connect even deeper to the present. And it only has to work for long enough to pull me out of my head and back to self awareness.
If I’m particularly depressed or sad, I can focus on journaling about my goals for a bright future, or, if you’re into manifestation (and I am, and it’s a new year and I’m trying to be unapologetically myself), I write my goals for the year, like I’ve already achieved them.
It can really change so much. Because what we focus on we get more of.
If you’re grieving, you can journal by writing letters to people, or identifying things you miss about whatever you’re missing or grieving.
Journaling is tracking. So, anything you can track, you can journal.
Animals you see
To do list
There are no rules to journaling. You don’t even have to keep a “journal.”
It could be index cards or sticky notes. For me it is similarly effective regardless of method, and, again, there are no rules. You can journal in a different color for every day of the week. It does not matter.
We all have an inner child. I recommend Dr. Becky Bailey’s book, Conscious Discipline. It addresses identifying triggers and consistently observing my life and having self-awareness.
Awareness creates choice. Choice is control. Healthy control is just that: healthy.
Wrapping up: (Misti)
I encourage you to set morning rituals and evening rituals to help create structure in your day. Starting your day off snoozing the alarm can sometimes be an act of self-care, but so is setting up a morning ritual. It will look different for each of us. I want to work on starting my morning off with a cup of tea outside as I wake up and enjoy the fresh air. Don’t let your morning routine be Facebook or checking your emails. Save that for later!
Same goes for the evening. I personally eat on bed, watch movies, do homework, etc., so that contributes to my insomnia. I don’t get tired in bed because it is also where I work and do school. Shelley suggested last week to have designated areas in the home for work, TV, sleep, etc. Transitioning my bed to being just a bed and not my office, school, or entertainment will help me to create a healthier nighttime routine.
Inspired by Donna.
Look in the mirror and look into your eyes. Tell each version of yourself, “I forgive you.” The child, teen, yesterday.