Self-Help Cognitive Therapy

Self-Help Cognitive Therapy and Neurolinguistic Training deal with the thought processes and deliberate, direct alteration of thoughts that create distress.  After examining events with the associated thoughts and feelings, you can change the thoughts to make changes in the feelings and subsequent behavior. 

    “You really think I can learn to change my feelings?  I never heard of such a thing!
Well, what do I do?  What do you mean, tell you about one little incident?  I thought I was doin’ that.
Oh.  You want to know exactly what happened where and when?…What I did and said?…What he did and said?…Step by step?
    You want me to write it down?…And what I thought and felt about it and how bad I felt?…Okay, I need a list for this.”

Here is your list, please make it into a chart as you can see here.

At the top of the page write “Cognitive Therapy Worksheet”
In the next space, write  “What happened?” and then the different aspects of the event.
I think it is helpful to put them in the order it occurs.
Leave yourself some space for writing.

Then draw a line across the page,
Then from that line, draw another line that divides the page down the center.

Then halfway down the lower page, draw another line across the page.

You now have four sections in the lower part of the page.
Label the upper left section “#1 What I think……….Percentage”
Label the upper right section “#2 What I feel……Percentage”
Label the lower left “#3 Better alternative thoughts and actions….Percentage”
Label the lower right section “#4 Feelings now……Percentage”

Now
Use short phrases in section #1 to state what you think,
You probably have several thoughts about the event, so write the percentage of each thought after it.

Next
Use short phrases to state each of your feelings and the percentage of each feeling.

Rigid thoughts and ideas such as, “always, never, ought, and should,” if used to excess, create unrealistic degrees of guilt.  They can be substituted with more flexible terms, such as “usually, rarely, sometimes, perhaps, possibly, might, may, often, or frequently.”  The flexible terms allow more tolerance toward yourself and others. 

Next
Review your stated thoughts…can you change any of the words to be less threatening or worrisome
and more tolerant and flexible?  If so, write those in #3 and the percentage after each change in your statement.

Now
Go to section #4.
Look at the restatements in #3 and write down the new feeling and percentage.

    “Yes, I see what you mean.  I’ve got a lot of ought’s and should’s in my thinking.  And I feel terrible.  ‘Really disappointed,’ I mean.  I guess it could be more terrible.  I guess I’ve got a habit of thinking the worst…How can I change my thoughts?…
Hmmm, other possibilities.  Weell, I could say, ‘I would LIKE him to help Junior and be a friend to him.’…I think he would like to, too.  Yes, I really think he shou.., uhh, would like to…I wonder how we could use our time different?  You know, that’s a pretty good idea.  Worth talking to them about…How do I feel now?  Still terrible?   Nooo, kinda hopeful,…I think.”

Emotions, our feelings, also affect physical health problems, including:  chronic headaches, diabetes, hypoglycemia,  gallbladder disease, peptic ulcers, gout, increased problems with arthritis, chronic and recurrent pain, increased cholesterol levels with its changes in the arterial lining of the heart, brain, and generally throughout the body.  Sometimes, changes in the emotions are the first symptoms of illness, for example: loss of cheerfulness, contentedness, and enjoyment of life, or increased apathy, anxiety, depression, irritability, and rapid emotional changes.

The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts Hospital has a good website for further information.

http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/basics/

Here you will find more stress warning signals.

http://www.massgeneral.org/bhi/assets/pdfs/stress_warning_signals.pd

    “Thank God.  It’s amazing that just changing some little words in my thinking makes me feel so much better!  I’m glad I told Sarah about how things were going.  The counselor she told me about is helping me do things different.  Sarah said she’d pray for us.  She’s a good friend…Funny…I haven’t had a headache all day.”

Using cognitive methods to affect our thoughts and feelings improves our mental and physical health by adding to our positive coping abilities for greater happiness, success, optimism, contentment, supportive family and friends, and a sense of peace with God.

 

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  3. Pingback: I Can’t Get Out of My Own Head | Inspired Relationship·

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