Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is an
effective therapy for depression, anxiety, and anger. Research has shown that
beliefs cause most of our emotional upsets, so CBT involves identifying these mistaken
beliefs and replacing them with realistic ones. In this video I will explain how anxious
thinkers create anxiety, how depressive thinkers create depression, and how angry thinkers
create anger by automatically telling themselves specific, distorted stories in stressful situations.
And then I will discuss how to detach from these inaccurate stories and create new stories
grounded in reality, which will improve emotional regulation and reduce stress.
So, first let’s imagine a stressful situation. Here it is: My hours were cut at work, so
I won’t have enough money to pay the mortgage this month.
Now, let me introduce the Anxious Thinker’s story: “My family and I will be evicted
and homeless, living on the street, and all freeze to death.” As you can see, Anxious
Thinkers take stressful situations to their worse possible outcomes. They fill their minds
with scary images and stories making it extremely difficult to focus on the problem. So, instead
of focusing on solutions – in this case finding money to pay the mortgage -Anxious Thinkers
spend their time and energy obsessively “catastrophizing,” thus turning a problem to be solved into a
chronic disaster film in their minds that overwhelms, paralyzes, and exhausts them.
Now, let me introduce the Depressive Thinker’s stories: “I’m a horrible failure who doesn’t
deserve to have a family. The situation is hopeless. My family would be better off without
such a loser as me.” As you can see, Depressive Thinkers get stuck in self-loathing and hopelessness,
the two most common thinking patterns that fuel depression. They fill their minds with
images and stories of doom, gloom, and self-hatred, making it extremely difficult to focus on
the problem. So, instead of focusing on solutions – in this case finding money to pay the mortgage
– Depressive Thinkers spend their time and energy obsessively beating up on themselves
and telling themselves things will never get better. Thus, they turn a problem to be solved
into a deep, dark hole in the minds from which there seems no escape, which overwhelms, paralyzes,
and exhausts them. And finally, let me introduce the Angry Thinker’s
story: “Those bastards cut my hours just to ruin my life! They’ve been out to get me
all along.” As you can see, Angry Thinkers perceive stressful situations from a victim
point of view, believing that someone or something is intentionally trying to cause them pain.
They fill their minds with inflaming images and stories or being victimized, making it
extremely difficult to focus on the problem. So, instead of focusing on solutions – in
this case finding money to pay the mortgage – Angry Thinkers spend their time and energy
obsessively blaming others, feeling victimized, and fantasizing about getting revenge, thus
turning a problem to be solved into a chronic victim film in their mind that overwhelms,
paralyzes, and exhausts them. So, what can we do to help ourselves if we
recognize that we tend to fall into these unhelpful patterns of thinking when under
stress? Well, we can learn to be Realistic Thinkers, which means we can learn to see
things as they actually are, rather than habitually listening to the automatic, distorted stories
emanating from our wounded minds. Realistic thinkers acknowledge that problems
exist and face them directly while avoiding getting sucked into unhelpful patterns of
thinking, such as catastrophizing, self-loathing, hopelessness, and victimization, which only serve to
muddy the waters, zap energy and concentration, and destroy motivation. Realistic thinkers
focus on observing and accepting the problem at hand so they can fully understand it: “My
hours are cut. I will come up $200 short for the mortgage, which could lead to foreclosure.
Therefore, I must focus my energies on finding a solution to this problem.” And then after they
brainstorm to find solutions and choose the best option, if that option doesn’t work,
then they try another option. If nothing seems to work, then they seek help from someone
with more knowledge. Learning to be a mindful and realistic thinker
is not always easy. So, if you’d like help in this endeavor, visit my website, serenityonlinetherapy.com,
where you can read more about me and the services I provide.
If you found this video helpful, please click the Thumbs Up button. And if you want to hear
more from me, then subscribe to my channel, Counselor Carl. I will be publishing a new
video every other weekend. And finally, keep paying attention to your
life! Until next time!