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.
A cognitive distortion is active in our minds when we experience an upsetting event and we think about it in self-distructive, exaggerated ways.
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 is more about how to use experiments to evaluate the facts behind unhelpful thoughts.
This can be done by exploring the validity of key words such as: always, never, too difficult, cannot:
– I AM A FAILURE: is it true that you always screw up – is there no single time you have succeeded with anything. Consider asking your close ones and see if they can help you list earlier successes.
– NOBODY LIKES ME: is it true that you never have been liked by anyone? Can there be another reason for why someone has not gotten back to you? Have you ever missed contacting someone? Why not ask if they want to meet to find out instead of uncomfortable guessing?
– IT IS TOO HARD: have you ever overcome a challenge that seemed very difficult in the beginning?
– I CANNOT DO IT: when having the thought that you cannot do it, is it possible to divide the task into smaller steps and ask for help & support from someone with experience in that area?
More about this next week.