CBT: Your First Step in Making Change
A Fresh Start with CBT
By Nicky Dericks, LPC
Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start! Maybe it means cleaning out the closet you have been putting off, starting a new fitness plan or diet, or you’ve decided you want to start being more present in your relationships. Often, we associate spring with new beginnings and new life. But growth and new beginnings often do not happen without change and hard work. Organization, health, fitness and being present are all excellent goals. However, sometimes we struggle making progress, or achieving goals we set for ourselves because we get frozen. Maybe it’s the winter blues freezing you from making changes, but maybe it’s more.
Fred Rogers used to carry a note in his pocket as a reminder which read – “You can love anyone, once you know their story.” In therapy, we do not look at a person and say, “what’s wrong with them?”, rather, we consider what has happened to them. A person can go through a lot in their life which may contribute to their present concerns and their emotional state. Maybe you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or a past hurt which prevents you from moving forward. Often times, our inner thought process and perspective of our self may influence this. Our self-view and belief system impact every aspect of our lives – from our overall health, relationships, and professional life.
A helpful approach used in counseling is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
– the concept that how we think, influences our behaviors, and behaviors influence outcomes. Here are some examples:
- If a student thinks that he or she is terrible at math, or that they will never understand it, chances are they will not invest in studying for an upcoming test. The test is administered, the student has not studied, and the outcome is that they fail the test.
- An adult believes something bad might happen if they try a new thing. Thus, they avoid most new things and continue to look for negative outcomes. Once something bad does happen, they associate it with something new and start to avoid it. Soon they avoid almost everything and start to feel isolated.
However, if they are able to transform or change the way they think about math or new things, it may challenge their behavior to be different. They may begin to accept that math or new things are not their specialty, but that if they study, they may learn something new. Understanding your own belief system and thought patterns will provide self-awareness that will enable you to re-frame or challenge your own unhelpful thinking patterns. This could provide different outcomes and results in your life.
Research has shown that it takes 7 positive statements, to outweigh 1 negative statement. Here are some good tips to get started:
- Pause: Pause, listen, and become self-aware of your own self talk. It’s important to understand how much of an influence you have in challenging your own thoughts by building yourself up, and not tearing yourself down.
- Process: Take the time to pause, think, and process how you are feeling and thinking. Then you can begin to understand more about yourself, and how to make lasting positive changes.
- Accept: Begin to accept, become secure, and love yourself once you understand your own story.
We all have different stories, life circumstances, and experiences that contribute to how we think. This influences our feelings; it often stems from a deeper place than our initial thoughts. Those thoughts whether positive or negative, then influence our perspective, which engage our choices that we make and the outcomes in our life. Sometimes we freeze and do not have an awareness of our own inner dialogue and self-perspective, and an out of control feeling starts to draw closer. However, learning how to be self-aware and how to reframe unhelpful thinking patterns gives you the chance to challenge and transform your own thoughts. This could provide different outcomes.
Are you are feeling stuck, or unable to move forward? Do you want healing, and to implement change? Maybe your goal this spring should be to take care of your mental health; to understand unhelpful thinking, difficult emotions, and behaviors that have kept you in a pattern of suffering for a long time. Call, make an appointment, and allow one of our compassionate professionals to help by listening to your story!
Call New Directions Counseling Services at 724.934.3905