Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is a process of assessing the contents of your own thoughts and how they might be affecting your mental health, then consciously going through the process of changing those thoughts. Affirmations and gratitude exercises are different ways you can apply CBT to your own life to improve your overall happiness, as well as achieve more specific goals.
What is an example of CBT?
Negative beliefs about yourself, your skills, and your expertise do not support your authorneering aspirations. One way to apply CBT to give you relief from these thoughts and turn them around is to follow this three-step process:
- Identify your negative self-talk through mindfulness.
Listening to your ruminations and write them down.
- Challenge those negative beliefs.
Realize that these are Mind Goblins and not representations of truth.
- Replace them with more positive statements.
Turn the statements around so that they are affirming and positive.
For example, let’s say your particular Mind Goblins are repeated thoughts of “I’ll never make it as an author” or “Who am I to write a book?” You can replace those negative statements with “I can make it as an author,” “It is possible for me to make it as an author,” or “I have a message people will want to read.”
Redirecting Thoughts with Gratitude
CBT can also mean redirecting your attention and focusing on different things. That’s where gratitude exercises come in. On a daily basis, you take a few minutes to be thankful for all the things you have in life and to reflect on what’s going well for you for a change. Many people do this by writing in a journal, but you don’t necessarily have to write it down to benefit — if you take the time to truly feel your gratitude.
If you think this sounds too woo-woo, that’s understandable. However, this practice is a very effective method that can genuinely transform your life and it’s based on science.
CBT and Neuroscience
Our brains work by releasing neurochemicals that are appropriate for the experiences we are having. In other words, if you’re in an exciting environment with people you love, lots of neurons will fire that you associate with attention, happiness, and love — causing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin to rush into your brain.
If you’re in an environment that’s cold, wet, dull, and stressful then there will be none of those happy hormones and instead much more cortisol and norepinephrine making you feel stressed and aggravated.
But it’s not being in those environments that is making you feel the way you do. Instead, it’s being aware of those environments — it’s the firing of the relevant neurons.
If you can train yourself to focus on the positive in a situation, to find the thing that is worth being happy about like the cute pigeon crossing the road, or the fact that your favorite program is on tonight, then you will release more of the happiness hormones and fewer of the stress ones.
It’s all about perception and CBT can help you to change that for the better.