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
Today’s post contains the first part of a summary of the different techniques that can be used in step 3 for investigating the accuracy of problematic thoughts:
1) Create alternative rational and more self-supportive thoughts – use the words, logic and caring tone you would use to someone you care about in a similar situation.
2) Use experiments for example by asking questions to evaluate the facts behind unhelpful thoughts for example by exploring the truth behind key words such as: always, never, too difficult, cannot do it.
3) Practice nuanced thinking, such as using shades of grey or a scale 1 to 100, to evaluate the facts behind unhelpful thoughts, instead of an either-or polarity or letting an incident that accounts for a low percentage of the total impact dominate the conclusion.
More about a summary of the other 5 techniques next week.