Posts Tagged ‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’

Thoughts Impact Our Feelings and Actions – Steps to help shift overwhelm

Guest Blog

– Bowbang Feng, LMFT

“I always mess it up! I never get it right!”

“I’m making progress. It’s easier when I break it down it to smaller steps.”

When you read those two sentences how do you feel? Thoughts like these may be helpful at times and lead to positive feelings and effective coping; or, strong negative thoughts can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or overwhelm.

Many non-linear thinkers develop patterns of negative thinking and have a strong internalized critical voice. Negative thoughts are typically based on irrational beliefs or cognitive distortions. These beliefs are often things we may have been told by others or by society. See if any of these sound familiar. Most of us do these sometimes.

Examples include:

  • all-or-nothing thinking, which gives rise to perfectionism
    • The belief that it has to be perfect or it has no value, and you failed. This can lead to procrastination, worry, and frustration.
  • selective attention to negative events or outcomes (and overlooking positive outcomes)
    • It’s hard to hold on to the positives when it feels like the negatives are so huge and overwhelming. We overlook the positives as if they weren’t true.
  • catastrophizing, believing that it would be a catastrophe if something does or does not occur
    • Imagining all the horrible things that might or might not happen and projecting them into the future. This can lead to being in a state of flight, fight or freeze – perceiving a constant threat.
  • personalization, seeing oneself as the cause of some negative external event for which one is not, in fact, primarily responsible. This often leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety.
    • My partner is upset…it must be my fault.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy offers a simple technique that can be very helpful – a Thought Record. This is a way of slowing down and mindfully looking at a situation. Writing down the facts along with our automatic thoughts and feelings gives a reality check that allows us to come up with a more balanced thought or belief. Give it a try.

Here are the steps:

  1. What is the situation? Just the facts. Who, What, When, Where, etc.
  2. Mood: How do you feel? How intense is that feeling from 1-100?
  3. Automatic Thoughts: What beliefs come up? What am I afraid of? What does this mean about me or the world? What images or memories does it evoke? What are the possible irrational beliefs?
  4. What is the evidence that supports this idea?
  5. What is the evidence against this idea?
  6. Is there an alternative view point that is able to take a balanced perspective of all the evidence? Come from a place of self-compassion and a non-judgmental perspective.
    1. You can also explore what is the effect of my believing the automatic thought or belief?
    2. What could be the effect of changing my thinking or how might I feel different?
  7. Check back in on your mood. How intense is it now on a scale of 1-100? Often times we feel better when we shift our thoughts and perspective.

The more you do this, the easier it gets. It can be a simple and powerful tool to shift our thoughts, moods, and behaviors as well as to gain more understanding about what it is that is really upsetting us. Once we understand the real problem, we can deal with it.

Bowbay Feng, LMFT
510-629-0239
bowbayfeng@gmail.com
www.bowbayfeng.com