CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and in its most simple form, CBT explores the link between our thoughts, feelings, and actions.
It’s called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy because it’s based on the principle that much of our mental distress originates from our thoughts (that’s the cognitive part). Our thoughts then make us feel a certain way (often bad) and because we feel bad, we act in unhelpful ways (that’s the behavioural part). The therapy aims to break these cycles.
Here’s an example which is fairly common: imagine you do a project at work. You hand it to your boss who offers some critical feedback. As a result you may think something along the lines of ‘I’m useless, I can’t do anything’, this then makes you feel sad/worried/anxious/hopeless. When you feel this way, you may then not make as much effort on the next project because you think you’re useless and feel anxious.
Unfortunately, odds are, because you didn’t feel confident enough to put in the effort, the next project will possibly also get negative feedback. This loop will just start all over again and you’ll become even more convinced you’re useless!
Firstly: we are 100% confident that you are definitely not useless!
Even if you did get some negative feedback on a project, or made a mistake, that is just one very small part what happened and logically shouldn’t have the power to ruin your day. Plus, it’s more than likely your boss also had some very positive things to say about your work as well. They may have even said more nice things than bad.
However, due to our biology we are wired to look for the ‘dangers’. This means it’s far too easy to focus on the negatives and completely ignore the positives. The trouble is, the more you do this, the harder it becomes to see any positives at all and this is where anxiety, depression, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorders often arise.
We know how easy it is to get trapped in a negative loop like that, and how difficult it is to break free on your own, especially if it’s been going on for a while. Luckily, that is where CBT comes in