There are many anxiety inducing patterns often called cognitive distortions or thought traps. These are ways of thinking that seem true but are in fact not reasonable, realistic or relevant to the situation.
Noticing when we are using thought traps and countering them is an important part of traditional CBT-exercises that also can reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Last weeks’ posts have been about how to challenge cognitive distortions through 3 steps:
Step 1: Identify the problem and its magnitude
Step 2: Examine the evidence of the problem creating thoughts
Step 3: Create alternative rational and more self-supportive thoughts
The post last week summarized 3 of the different techniques that can be used in step 3 for investigating the accuracy of problematic thoughts. Here are the next 3:
4) practice a nuanced language and avoiding judgmental words such as must, should, have to etc. that others might not agree upon and that tend to create guilt, shame and unnecessary stress, which can be both unhelpful and hurtful.
Being careful with the words we use, also in our internal dialogue, can inspire to a more optimistic and positive perspective on daily life.
5) use the common norm by asking others about their experiences and how they think about the specific problem to determine how rational, realistic and sound your perspective is.
6) cost-benefit analysis by inspiring motivation through listing the advantages and disadvantages of feelings, thoughts, and behaviours, to figure out possible gains – how will this help me – as well as the price paid – how will this harm me, to come to a conclusion about which side outweighs the other.
The last 2 techniques are summarized next week.