We often hear a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and it can be a popular therapeutic approach in the counseling world. At Tenfold Counseling Group, we do practice this approach as well. It is a favorite of mine actually because it is in real time and can be very practical and hands on. Today, we wanted to challenge your thoughts with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and see if you can find some application in your own life.
First off, let’s set the foundation for what CBT focuses on. The primary goal of challenging your thoughts with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to change your patterns of thinking and behavior, which will then lead to a change in feeling as well. Knowing that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all linked can really help us take on a new understanding of the challenges we are facing. Let’s first apply this with a simple scenario.
For example, let’s say that your significant other comes home one evening and seems irritable. You might begin thinking to yourself that you must have done something to make them upset, which then leads you to potentially feeling defensive or on edge as well. Your behavior might then to not be as engaging in conversation or to avoid any dialogue that evening thinking that you really aren’t in the mood for conflict that night. This pattern can lead to further disconnection and neither of you feel supported. But let’s say that you wanted to challenge your thoughts with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and were ready to apply some skills that you had learned in a previous counseling session. Instead of allowing your negative automatic thoughts to direct your feelings and actions, you take a different approach. You could begin thinking that maybe your significant other had a challenging day at work or he/she just ended a hard phone conversation before they walked in the door. If you thought these things, you might feel compassion and empathy for what they may be experiencing. This would then lead you to cross that bridge and offer to greet them with affection and to then ask about how their day was. If they are ready to discuss, this conversation could lead to further connection and feeling heard and understood.
So looking back at this example, the situation remained exactly the same but the outcome was drastically different. The one thing I chose to focus on in that example was to change the initial thought. Once we adjusted the thought, the feeling and the behavior soon followed. Recognizing how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors ultimately work together can truly be a game changer in how we process what is happening within us internally, and then how we choose to communicate with those around us. So my challenge for you is how can you apply this basic principal in your life today? What thought can you change that could lead to a completely different outcome? I would love to hear about it so feel free to send me an email and share how you are choosing to challenge your thoughts with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.