The benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy
When people read my book “Destination Delinquency?” which is all about my upbringing and formative years, they find it almost impossible to believe that the person written about in the book is the same person that they see today.
People who meet me automatically assume that I come from a privileged, happy background and I believe my positive outlook and successful lifestyle is down to personal development, a lot of it involving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
I grew up with a lot of negativity. I was called “stupid” and “useless” and was regularly told what a liability I was to my parents. The early messages I received were certainly not conducive to the creation of a happy, self confident adult. Those messages still haunt me from time to time but I was determined to find a way to lessen the impact of my parent’s destructive attitudes and find a way to lead a life using my potential to the best of my ability.
I started by treating myself with more self respect. I began to alter my inner dialogue and decrease the amount of negative self talk that I was so used to engaging in.
At first it didn’t feel right but over time, talking to myself as I would some one I loved dearly made a huge difference to my life. Try it for yourself, at the end of each day, write down 3 things that you did that made you feel proud of yourself that day. It can be minor things such as smiling at a stranger or the fact that you got out of bed 5 minutes earlier – anything that helps you to feel good about yourself. Do this for 30 days and you will be AMAZED at the results. We tend to find it harder to remain neutral about ourselves or think positively but getting into the habit of thinking positively about yourself is a great habit to get used to.
This is part of cognitive behavioural therapy – the “cognitive” part which involves noticing your negative thoughts. Once you are aware of them, the next step is to challenge them. Thoughts are NOT facts and it’s important to understand why you think the way you do – especially if it is negative and doesn’t help you in any way. Ask yourself where the evidence is for that thought…real evidence, not assumptions or mind reading. They don’t count.
The “behavioural” part involves doing things that oppose your negative thinking. If you believe that you are “useless” in social situations – find ways to prove the opposite to yourself. Start with small steps but make an effort to put yourself into social situations where you can prove that you aren’t completely useless. It has never happened before where I have found a client who has a negative belief that is ALWAYS true for them. There will always be at least one exception and if that is the case, the thinking is no longer valid.
That is the essence of cognitive behavioural therapy – challenging the negative thinking that upsets us and makes us anxious and then applying the new thinking to our lives.
Thanks to the benefits of cognitive behavioural therapy I have become more confident and like myself a lot more than I used to. I also don’t talk to myself with as much negativity as I used to. Passivity has been replaced by assertiveness and although I am not immune to life’s stressors, I have more inner resources to help me cope.
If you feel anxious or depressed and/or feel you didn’t have the best start in life, consider cognitive behavioural therapy. It’s a wonderful way to start changing the way you see the world and this in turn will help you to feel more content. I am talking from personal experience and I highly recommend it.