Feelings, moods and emotions are what makes us human. How we decide to respond to situations can either be rational or irrational, healthy or unhealthy, productive or ineffective. For instance, following a series of unsuccessful relationships, one might become depressed and repeatedly reinforce false beliefs like:
- If I love someone, that person should love me back.
- If only I had done or said something differently I wouldn’t feel so alone right now.
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) suggests that people not only have the right to dispute dysfunctional beliefs and irrational thoughts but that it is ultimately up to the individual to accept and tackle this responsibility and here’s how:
- Recognize the beliefs (thought patterns) that cause emotional distress. Break them down and write them down one by one and acknowledge each thought and then dispute it.
For instance, there is no law in the universe that says you must receive love from someone you care for, therefore the belief is false. Byron Katie, author of “Loving What Is” and developer of “The Work” simplifies CBT by distilling the entire logic-and-reason process down to a series of questions.
To start, ask yourself, “Is it true?” Is it true that if you love someone, they must love you back? Then ask a follow-up question: “Can you absolutely know for certain that it’s true?” (Answer truthfully.)
According to the facilitator training quick study guide at SMART Recovery, meeting participants are encouraged to find their own answers to their individual issues in order to increase confidence and self-efficacy. “People tend to believe what they hear themselves saying,” is a premise that works in many successful self-help groups, therefore self-evaluation that amplifies awareness is a key component to most personal growth and recovery programs. And this can be accomplished through writing and/or verbal expression — whatever works best for you.
If you would like more information on how to unravel your own emotional response patterns, you can visit www.SmartRecovery.org and download many free worksheets and information to get you started. And don’t let the word “recovery” scare you off if you don’t have an alcohol or drug problem. This kind of psychological assessment is beneficial for a wide variety of issues, including but not limited to the following: Overeating, gambling, excessive shopping, smoking, and basically any habitual practice that you desire to change.