Change Your Thinking
There’s not a single person reading this that hasn’t at some point or other struggled to deal with negative thoughts and/or emotions – sometimes we handle challenging situations well and at other times, they knock us for six. (Hello?! We’re human, right?)
Coping with negative thoughts/feelings is totally normal and some people just seem naturally more adept at bouncing back, either by dealing with them on their own, or by talking them through with someone else (be it a therapist/friend/family member).
Specifically, people who are better at not letting negativity linger on, generally don’t allow self defeating thoughts to take root in their consciousness. These people draw rational conclusions about events that occur (rational being a thought that is aligned with our desire for happiness and survival) and hence, the negativity of the moment doesn’t impact on the quality of our lives over the long term.
On the flip side however, when we think irrationally about situations, they become a struggle to deal with and over time, they may re-occur, become more intensified and end up seriously messing with our emotional balance and happiness. This is where Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be a big help, explains author of Change Your Thinking, Sarah Edelman, as it aims to address the underlying thought patterns of your negative emotions and gently transform them into beliefs that will work for you, rather than against you.
What is CBT?
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an ‘evidence-based’ treatment methodology used by clinical psychologists around the world. It’s founded on the premise that what we think determines how we feel. Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of CBT in treating a range of conditions from mood (depression, anxiety) to personality, eating and psychotic disorders and have found that CBT can be as, if not more effective than medication. Thankfully, Change Your Thinking spares you weighty scientific explanations of what CBT is, and instead gives you an overview of how it differs from ‘positive thinking’, a basic grounding in the premise of the therapy and then gets straight into the nitty gritty of how you can use it to develop healthier psychological responses to events that otherwise might send you into a tailspin.
How To Recognise Faulty Thinking
The extent to which negative thoughts take root in our consciousness greatly impacts on our ability to live a balanced and happy life, yet often, we don’t recognise just how ‘faulty’ our thinking really is. Change Your Mind helps you become more aware of how your thougths could be making your life far more difficult and distressing than it needs to be.
Across 11 chapters Edelman offers many common, every day scenarios as examples where we might be employing faulty thinking – the scenarios cover issues at work, to relationships, matters of self esteem, communication and conditions like depression. These examples give you pointers as to where you may be engaging in faulty thinking of your own and are followed by exercises on how to ‘dispute’ and disrupt the self defeating thought patterns so that they lose their power.
Faulty Thinking Includes:
- Polarized (black-and-white) thinking – e.g. “I didn’t get into law school – my future is ruined.”
- Overgeneralising – e.g. After a string of failed long term relationships, you tell yourself, “I’m incapable of having a relationship,” and “Men can’t be trusted.”
- Personalizing – e.g. “I tried to involve Craig in discussions at the group dinner last night but he still didn’t join in. I feel responsible.”
- Filtering – e.g. When someone compliments you on a debut performance, saying you were ‘brilliant’ – you focus on the fact they mentioned your inexperience.
- Jumping to (negative) conclusions – e.g. When someone doesn’t return your call you assume they’re purposefully ignoring you. You later find out they’ve been with their mother in hospital.
- Mind reading – e.g. “James received the promotion over me, even though we’ve been working here exactly the same amount of time. My bosses think I’m incompetent.”
- Blaming – e.g. “It’s my divorced parents’ fault that I’ve never been able to trust someone in a committed relationship.”
- Labelling – e.g. “I’m stupid.”
- Predicting catastrophe – e.g. “If I don’t work every hour god sends on my business it’ll go under and I’ll be broke, or even worse, homeless!” and
- Comparing – e.g. “Susan has made more friends in 6 months of moving to this city, than I have in 2 years. I should be making more friends and socialising like her.”
What ‘Change Your Thinking’ Can Teach You
Sometimes we might be aware that our thinking is contributing to our problems, but perhaps we don’t know just how much. We know that worrying about something or getting angry might not solve our problems and in fact, usually only makes it seem worse, yet we often lack strategies f0r dealing with runaway negativity.
In Change Your Thinking, Edelman shows you how to interrupt and challenge your self defeating thoughts and habitual negative responses. By recognising your negative perceptions as they occur and then ‘disputing’ these in a rational manner, you will feel more empowered and experience a greater sense of control and security.
Whether you struggle with depression, guilt or low self esteem, Change Your Thinking will help you to address your issue by:
* Minimizing the upsetting emotions you experience
* Explaining how to monitor errors in thinking that are causing you unnecessary stress and unhappiness
* Teaching you how to dispute errors in your thinking such that you arrive at more helpful, realistic conclusions about yourself and life
* Helping you face the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your goals
What’s Great About ‘Change Your Thinking’?
Change Your Thinking presents CBT in a way that’s super accessible for anyone, even those who haven’t been exposed to it before. The plain English, jagon-free language Edelman employs helps you understand the concepts presented, just as the very ‘real world’ examples and practical exercises help you apply the theory.
I think what I like best about Change Your Thinking is that you can pick it up and put it down as the urge takes you. One day, a certain event might trigger the realisation that you’ve had a self esteem issue for a little while and y0u decide to take steps to overcome it – in that case, you can flip straight to the relevant section and do the exercises contained therein.
Similarly, you might be facing an ongoing challenge with a low mood and so read a number of sections including the one specifically on depression as a more comprehensive look at how CBT can help you. However, you don’t have to read chapter upon chapter of introductory material for the exercises to work for you (personally, I just started at the chapter that I had the most interest in).
What’s Not So Great?
On a superficial level – the price. Yeah, yeah, I know – what price can you put on happiness, right? Well as far as the self-help section of Borders goes, at (AUD) $46.99, Change Your Thinking is definitely up there at the more pricey end of the salvation scale. However, you can get it heaps cheaper from Amazon (there’s a direct link below), which would have been my modus operandi had I done a little research. Oh the folly of impulse bookstore buys! Having said that, it’s a very comprehensive book so is probably worth it, but if you can get it cheaper on Amazon – do!
On a deeper level, like all therapies, CBT doesn’t offer a ‘magic bullet’ and really requires that you put the time and effort into monitoring your thoughts and doing a little self maintenance whenever you notice your thoughts are bringing you down. CBT is not ‘a pill to pop’- it takes applied, ongoing effort, a willingness to face your demons and a desire to really put the work in to help yourself. CBT won’t suit someone looking for an easy way out, however the benefits you’ll reap in your life from tackling the root cause of your problems, will far outweigh the effort and time you invest.
Change Your Thinking is a brilliant reference guide for the general reader to apply the principles of CBT in their own lives. Even if you don’t have a pressing issue right now, you’ll find it highly interesting if you’re into psychology or have a passion for trying to understanding why people do what they do. It will also no doubt increase your effectiveness if you want to offer assistance to those who are struggling with any of the challenges outlined above. Similarly, if you do have a problem at present, it provides the tools to help direct you in creating a more balanced, happier life.
3.5 / 5 Monkeys
You can pick up your own copy of Change Your Thinking quickly and easily by clicking the link below, with delivery direct to your door! (Note: Cover artwork below is of 1st edition, cover at top right of this post is 2nd edition.)
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