People who struggle with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder can benefit greatly by learning skills to reduce the negatives of these mood states. Thought restructuring is a somewhat complicated yet very useful tool to change the brain. Research shows that using a thought restructuring tool 20-50 times will teach the brain to look for a more positive thought automatically.
It still makes sense to start the process by increasing our positive thoughts. To do this, make a list of things you’re grateful for to help you look for the positives in life. I’m grateful for the evergreen trees that help me see calming green nature all year round. I’m grateful for the goofy antics of the squirrels as they gather their nuts for winter. I would encourage you to come up with a list of 20 things you are grateful for. Then make a list of things you like about yourself, values, personality traits, and accomplishments. Make this list just as long.
The next step is to learn thought restructuring. I would encourage everyone to get a therapist to guide you through this process. It isn’t easy to do with a coach and is a lot harder to do alone.
The table looks something like this:
- Situation 2. Pre-mood 3. Automatic thought 4. Evidence for 5. Evidence against 6. Balanced
Thought 7. Post-mood
Obviously, these seven would each be columns if I had a piece of paper going the other direction!
- Situation: What is the situation that triggered you to feel anxious, depressed, angry etc. Where were you when it happened? Did you wake up feeling like this?
- Pre-mood: How do you feel? How intensely do you feel this from 0-100%? There may be 2-3 feelings that you are experiencing. If you feel angry-what feeling might that be covering up? If you only work through the anger, you’ll be missing vital information. Anger is a cover-up emotion which covers up vulnerable emotions. Anger projects our negative feelings on others. The vulnerable emotion is about ourselves. We need to dig to the feeling that is about us to effectively change our thoughts and emotions.
- Automatic thought: What was the immediate thought you had about this situation? If the thought was about someone else, what thought do you have which is about yourself?
- What evidence do you have that this thought is a fact? If the thought is about a past event which hurt you, this is the wrong exercise to be doing. When we have thoughts about losses or traumas we have experienced in the past which are real, we need to do grief or trauma work. We may need to cry, write about it, sing or dance it out, run or bike it out, process it through art and get therapy. If your negative thought is about the future or at least something that hasn’t happened, you probably don’t have any evidence in favor of it, or your evidence isn’t very good.
- What evidence do you have that this thought is NOT true? Here you can come up with a lot more evidence. I encourage my clients to come up with a long list. If it is hard, get someone who loves you to help out. Their perspective may enable you to come up with a much longer list.
- Now you can create a more balanced thought. This thought isn’t meant to be a Pollyanna, idealistic thought, but one you believe and have faith in.
- Post-mood. Now rate your mood again. If you have done this correctly and really invested in it, your post mood will be lower than your pre-mood. That doesn’t mean it will be 0 but it will come down, 6 to 4 perhaps. The more times you do this exercise, the more effective it will be and the more the number will come down.
#self-help, #thoughtrestructuring, #naturalremedies, #reduceanxiety, #increasemood, #improvemood,