Perception is a key used to unlock many thoughts. Especially, it unlocks how one perceives their own actions; future, past, present, and encourages a range of emotions. Those thoughts and emotions manifest themselves in numerous ways, rarely neutral, most of the time positive or negative. “I’m such a dork,” after bungling to flirt; or, “I rock,” after a successful date. Neutral is more difficult; but, any sense of indifference I suppose may be categorized as a neutral thought or perception.
The take away is that in order for CBT to work, one must be able to filter the perceptions, understand how they perceive thoughts and actions, and be able to judge if what they think; and, or, say to themselves is logical and true, or corrupt and vial.
Its important for a person practicing CBT to be able to bounce back these perceptions to a therapist or trusted confidant. Especially to someone who is going to be true. Meaning they won’t pull the blanket over the practicer’s eyes when they may stumble onto a thought that is too provoking. Often, thoughts that are hurtful, harmful, true or untrue, and, or secretive may hold the key to bridging the gap and providing an outlook into the perceptions one holds about themselves. These thoughts also have a tendency to include others, even if they are unaware.
A bully punched the person in front of you. You froze, unable to help even though your soul was willing. Ten years later your offspring has an encounter with a bully and it brings up emotions you hid well away. All of a sudden, thoughts spring into your mind that your a loser, or even your a bad person. Thoughts will drift in; I should of stepped up to the bully; I should of punched them in the nose; that person must think I’m the biggest loser; I’m a wimp because I was so scared, etc…
Actively combating the thoughts is difficult. Often the combative thoughts come after an episode of depression. Digging in and understanding why you felt that way, especially identifying an activating event. What brought up the negativity? Why did it make you feel a certain way? What thoughts can be used to combat it? How or should you avoid the activating event in the future?
Avoidance is often a negative tool; however, like every rule there are gray areas and avoidance is sometimes key to recovery. For instance, avoiding a bar if your an alcoholic or drug house, etc. Sometimes its people, or a place with a strong memory. Much caution should be taken when using avoidance as a tool because it can lead to anxiety.
We fall back to the ABC’s. Activating Event, Behavior, Combating Thoughts and Emotions.
Sometimes depression is because of a chemical imbalance or due to dire circumstances beyond our control. Thought often during each of these examples we are confronted with a wave a negativity that our filters may not be able to combat on their own. Like any tool, your urged to practice it outside of depressed episodes. Like firefighters who practice life saving and hose routines it puts into place muscle memory in our minds.
Thank you for reading, I’m in week four of CBT and this is my fourth time going through CBT either in groups or individual therapy. I’m not an expert, but I have been using the tool for almost 8 years now. Practice is key.