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Cognitive Behavioral Interventions

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Thoughts, feelings and behaviors all interact to either help you feel healthy and happy, or depressed and miserable.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was created to help you basically alter one aspect of that triad.  When you are having more positive, happy or empowered thoughts, it generally benefits your mood and how you feel physically.

Cognitions are literally your thoughts.  By changing the way you think about something, you can change your emotional and physical reactions to it as well.  There are several different cognitive approaches that use cognitive behavioral techniques:  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Emotion Efficacy Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This section pulls the most helpful tools from each one in order to help you build a strong foundation of skills to improve your thoughts and let go of unnecessary stress.

Cognitive Distortions

1. All or nothing – thinking
You see things in black and white categories If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.  If you make a mistake, instead of seeing it as just that, a single mistake, you view it as a complete failure.  Another example is when you tell someone they “always” or “never” do something.  Look for exceptions. It is likely that they have only done it (or failed to do it) sometimes.

2. Overgeneralization
You see a single negative event or instance as representative of all events.  For example, if you are in a bad relationship, you might say “all men are pigs.”  That overgeneralizes, because there are likely some very nice, amazing men out there.

3. Mental filter
You dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.  For example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation, but one of them says something mildly critical, and you obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

4. Discounting the positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they ‘don't count.' If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn't good enough or that anyone could have done as well.

5. Jumping to conclusions
You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.
Mind reading: Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.
Fortune telling: You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, ‘I'm really going to blow it.” If you're depressed you may tell yourself, “I'll never get better.”

6. Magnification
You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.

7. Emotional reasoning
You assume that how you feel reflects the way things really are: ‘I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly.' Or ‘I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person.' Or ‘I feel angry. This proves I'm being
treated unfairly.'

8. “Should statements”
You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, ‘I shouldn't have made so many mistakes.' Shoulds, ‘musts,' ‘oughts' and ‘have tos' all lead to guilt, resentment and or frustration.

9. Labeling
You identify with your shortcomings. Instead of saying ‘I made a mistake.' you tell/label yourself: ‘I'm a loser.'

10. Personalization
Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control. Just because someone gives you a dirty look doesn't mean they are mad at you or you did something to offend them. The person in front of them may have just farted, and that is what the look is about. 🙂