Cognitivemeans “thoughts”— beliefs, judgments, expectations, self-talk.Thoughts can have a strong influence on emotions and behavior. Thoughts that are extreme and unreasonable can deepen distressing emotional states, fuel avoidance and interfere with effective action. Thoughts that are reasonable and nurturing promote emotional and behavioral health.
Flexible, Reasonable Thinking
You may overestimate the likelihood of catastrophic outcomes, see things in all-or-none categories, like perfection and failure. Such extreme, rigid beliefs can reinforce fear and avoidance, shame and withdrawal, deepen and prolong emotional disorders. Cognitive restructuring helps you develop more reasonable, effective interpretations, judgments and beliefs.
Become an Effective Self Coach
We all talk to ourselves through the day—commenting, remembering, guiding, planning, criticizing and so on. The quality of one’s self-talk will influence one’s emotional health. Are you critical, overly judgmental and punishing? Do you frighten yourself with catastrophic predictions? The goal of CBT is to develop a supportive, coaching inner voice, to forgive mistakes, and constructively guide and motivate continued efforts toward change.
Acceptance of Unchangeable Thoughts
Some thoughts, like fixed beliefs and obsessive rumination and worry, may be so deeply ingrained, that they cannot be changed with cognitive restructuring. You may perceive that the thought is not reasonable, but at a deep level, you still believe it and are influenced by it. Acceptance and mindfulness are used to weaken the attachment to cognitive patterns that are not easily changed.
Cognitive skills, along with acceptance, mindfulness, activation and exposure, are part of an integrated treatment plan to help you manage strong emotions – feelings, sensations, thoughts, urges – and motivate effective behavior.