Negative self talk, our inner voice, dysfunctional and irrational thoughts, are all bad habits that can be redirected and changed. Cognitive restructuring is a method to change these habits. This method helps you identify, challenge and then alter cognitive distortions like the many negative thinking styles discussed at the beginning of the month, Black and White Thinking, Overgeneralization, Personalization, Catastrophizing, and Fortune Telling.
Steps of Cognitive Restructuring
Identify the upsetting situation
Who or what are you feeling unhappy about?
Identify and record your feelings
How are you feeling about the situation. Are you unhappy, nervous, anxious, stressed, guilty, humiliated, or confused. Then rate each feeling from 1-10.
Record your automatic thoughts
These are often the negative self talk we hear. When I’m invited to a party my automatic thoughts tend to go around “I’m not going to have fun,” “I won’t know anyone,” “I’ll be all alone,” “I’ll be humiliated or judged because I’ll be quiet and alone.”
Analyze these thoughts
Are these automatic thoughts rational? How can we change the situation you fear? How about if I’m more outgoing and talk to new people I won’t be all alone and maybe I’ll make a new friend.
Construct realistic thoughts
Come up with more realistic and rational thoughts. “I’ll have fun,” “It won’t be long,” “I’ll be supporting….” “Maybe I’ll meet a new friend” These are all examples of looking at the situation positively.
These steps can help with many different mental health conditions, low self esteem, negative inner voice, self criticism, depression, anxiety and so much more. This technique is used often by psychiatrists during cognitive behavioral therapy.
More information about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Restructuring…
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