Earlier in the week I introduced you to the basic concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a direct approach to problem solving in counseling that focuses on identifying, challenging, and changing faulty belief systems and distorted ways of thinking…otherwise known as Stinkin’ Thinkin”.
My last blog post explored the powerful link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Today we will move beyond the CBT triangle and focus on distorted thinking patterns called Cognitive distortions. Quite simply, cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking, behavior, and emotions.
For instance, a mom who has just signed on for a new PTA position might tell herself she SHOULDN’T make any mistakes in this new role and MUST transition into the role seamlessly. These types of SHOULD/MUST thoughts cause anxiety & unnecessary emotional distress.
Below are a few more types of distorted thinking that can lead to what I like to call “Mommy-Manic Moments!!!!”
Magnifying or Minimizing: Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events-discounting achievements or exaggerating mistakes. “Everyone noticed I left the date off of the school carnival packet. This is AWFUL & everyone will think I am incompetent.”
Overgeneralizing: Making broad statements from a single or a few events. “I wasn’t as prepared for the PTA meeting today as I should have been. I am always unprepared!”
Magical Thinking: A belief that acts will influence unrelated situations. “I am a good person-bad things should not happen to me.”
Personalization: Believing that one is responsible for events outside of his/her own control. “My child is going through a hard time. If I were a better mom, my child would never have to face hard times.”
Jumping to Conclusions by Mind Reading: Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “Little Johnny wasn’t invited to that birthday party, so that mom must think he is an awful kid!”
Jumping to Conclusions by Fortune Telling: Expecting a situation will turn out badly without adequate evidence. “Little Bobby will surely fail 2nd grade because he isn’t reading at the same level as the other children in his class.”
As you can probably guess, this type of negative thinking leads to anxiety & depression….Not to mention countless unplanned trips to TARGET for retail therapy!!!! In upcoming posts, we will explore a few more types of Stinkin’ Thinkin’ & begin the process of challenging and changing Negative Nelly thoughts.
This simple premise is the cornerstone of my work as a therapist.
I have found that the root of a client’s anxiety and/or depression is often directly related to his/her core beliefs about himself, others and the world around him. These beliefs, in combination with distorted thinking patterns, cause a great deal of emotional distress.
So it stands to reason that if we harness the power of our thoughts, we can directly influence our feelings & behaviors. This idea is the backbone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem solving. Quite simply: changing your thoughts can change your life!
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. With a lot of introspection and a little homework, you will be well on your way to mastering your mind.
In my upcoming blog posts, I will shed light on the core principles of CBT. Today, however, we will begin to explore the foundation upon which CBT is built.
The first step in understanding CBT is to understand that feelings, actions, and thoughts are always connected.
Here is an example of this triangle in action:
Situation: I have an upcoming blog post deadline & a mountain of laundry looming in the other room. If my thought is…I’ll NEVER get this blog post done in time, I immediately feel ANXIOUS. This feeling of dread might cause me to avoid doing either task & instead, binge watch 1,000 episodes of Odd Mom Out.
My negative (all or nothing-always /never) thinking in this situation led to anxiety and avoidance…Not to mention some serious mind sucking t.v. time…which does little to help me conquer the Everest of Underwear in the other room.
With a small mommy mind makeover, I will rewind this scenario & hopefully end up with a more productive outcome.
Situation: I have an upcoming blog post deadline & a mountain of laundry looming in the other room. If my thought is…This blog post deadline is looming & so is the laundry. I’ve been in this situation before & I managed to get it all done. If I stay relaxed, I will be more productive. As a result, I feel less ANXIOUS and more hopeful. This new feeling of calm helps me to work on each task a little at a time and eventually get both of the tasks done. …Which in turn allows time for a glass of wine & 2 episodes of Odd Mom Out.
This mind makeover is obviously a win/win for booze, BRAVO & Borax!
Your homework this week is simple:
1) Put on your big girl panties… (Hopefully they’re clean!)
2) Put a lot of thought into situations that trigger you to feel anxious, overwhelmed, etc..& jot them down.
3) Stay tuned….In upcoming posts, we will explore how to label these thoughts and (if they are irrational), change them.
Happy Mommin’ –
I just arrived home a little carsick & A LOT heart sick. Watching the Frio River disappear from view is undoubtedly my least favorite part of the summer.
My favorite part? Everything else.
My intention was to share my favorite memories with words but last night, while gazing up at 1,000 Texas stars, I drank in all of my favorite songs, and changed my mind.
(It is a girl’s prerogative after all & this Texas Girl is no exception!)
So hear you go folks….this pretty much says it all.
Click below so I can tell you about my trip. 🙂
I am looking forward to hitting the road to the Hill Country for my family’s annual trip to Garner State Park. If you have never experienced Garner State park or floated down the crystal clear waters of the Frio River, then you haven’t Met My Texas...(To quote Pat Green).
The Frio has become my happy place over the years.
Our Frio River bucket list includes:
A few summers back, in one of the Garner gift shops, I stumbled upon the cutest posters from a company called Your True Nature. I reveled in the advice from a river….especially the last line…The beauty is in the journey.
My advice for this Self Care Sunday is….. get your boots on & get here as soon as you can. I’ll save you a tube & a Shiner.
Friendships have been on my mind a lot lately....
Probably because last weekend we said goodbye to a beloved member of our mom tribe. She is moving to Houston and taking her cute hats, her humor, and piece of all of our hearts with her.
Saying goodbye to friends is not exactly new territory but it did get
me thinking about my mom’s take on friendship. She shared her wisdom with me a few years ago, when I was mourning the loss of another friendship.
“In life, there are there are both road friends and heart friends. In your lifetime, will have many road friends, but you’ll be lucky to have even a handful of heart friends…those are the important ones.”
“If I throw my whole heart into most of my friendships (which I do), aren’t they all heart friends?”
“Road friends,”she said, “are the ones you’ll meet along your journey through middle school, motherhood and midlife. They will make life a little less lonely for a time. They will share memories and mimosas, midlife madness, and more. You’ll find yourself drawn to them because you’ll share something in common; kids, summer camps, careers, and kindness. They will love you dearly and you them; for a time. They will fulfill their purpose in your life and you in theirs.”
“There may or may not be a dramatic ending, no break up or blow up. Just as you looked up one day and they were there, you may look up one day and they’ll be gone.”
It’s being ok with the later that I’m struggling with lately.
And heart friends? “Well, it will take years sometimes before you know which ones those will be. They will be the ones who will come into your life and never leave. You may not see them for months at a time, not talk to them as often as you would like, and then one day you’ll need them and they will be there. They will call you to check on you, be there in a crisis, and invest their time and energy in loving your kids as though they are their own. The two of you will pick up right where you left off and then you’ll understand that this one was meant to stay. It took me 43 years to finally start recognizing the difference between the two….
Pay attention to those who reach out to you, not just when they are in need, but when you are. They will make an effort to be a part of your life; not matter how busy they may be in their own.
Heart friends are sometimes miles away, but often closest in your heart. So here’s to road friends and heart friends & to the wisdom & insight to know the difference. Thanks to both for making the journey more fun.
The following post is from a precious member of my tribe, who tragically lost her brother recently. She was brave enough to share the following:
I wrote this social media post in March 2017 after finally acknowledging that I was in a process of grief about the death of my younger brother. I say “a process”, but really it is MY process. Because mine is different from yours, or anyone else’s. Just like every life and every fingerprint, loss is as individual as the person grieving.
Since I wrote this, I have had countless blessings. And my moments of happiness stretch further and further each week. I am still sad, but empowering myself enough to acknowledge it, has given me the room and time to find joy again too.
“Please forgive the length of this post. I have been feeling a tug inside of me to share these words, so perhaps there is someone else who needs to read them. Or perhaps I just need to let them out.
Sometimes it feels like grief for the loss of my brother Daniel is an unwelcome guest in my heart. It is very polite & doesn’t make too much of a mess most days. But I would still prefer for this grief to move on.
February 2nd was the first day since January 17, 2017 that I felt joy for a moment. And then moments free from grief and sadness began stretching out a little bit each day. But sometimes, grief will pop up and spin my head around so hard it hurts.
I know that so many before me have traveled this path after losing their own brothers, sisters, parents, children, spouses and dear friends. And I know that as broken as my heart is right now, God is slowly putting it back together the same way he has put together all of the others before mine. God is granting me the strength, blessings and peace to journey on to the point where Dan’s life becomes more bright in my mind than his death.
So my strength right now is only borrowed.
Because when I arrive at the fork at the end of this path, and when the grief in my heart has eased into something more bearable, I will look at this journey I have taken and see His footprints behind me.
So I am going to stay in my sadness for awhile longer. But through His Grace, and with the support of the amazing people I am blessed to call family and friends, this grief inside my heart is slowly being healed.
I have so much gratitude for the love, messages, prayers and laughter everyone has sent my way. Thank you!”
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got came from an old friend of mine. It came during a difficult time in my marriage, and was in response to the question: Do I continue in a relationship where my needs are not being met and my words fall on deaf ears time & time again? It proved helpful and has guided me in relationships ever since.
So..I did just that.
It saved my marriage.
In my work with couples and families, people often say to me…”I bet nothing surprises you anymore”. Actually, what surprises me most about humans is how little they communicate.
I’m talking NO COMMUNICATION…At all…Nothing…Zero…Nada!
Listen up people….life is messy. Relationships are messy. Humans are a lot of things, but they are NOT MIND READERS! You may be waiting for the right words or the right time to have a difficult conversation. Guess what? There is no right time, and you may never have the right words Stop waiting and start talking.
Do not expect others to give you what you need, want and/or expect, if you are not willing to tell them what that is! If they make an effort to give you what you need/want and expect, they are keepers. If they don’t, won’t or can’t, at least you can walk away knowing you did everything within your power to salvage the …(marriage, friendship, business partnership), etc…You get the idea…now get to talking.
It is more than a little ironic that Yoga is the activity I turn to on a daily basis to cope with the ups and downs of being a parent. The more I think about it, the more I realize YOGA is the perfect metaphor for parenting.
I can almost hear each reader’s audible ugh as I type this post. YOGA….
Ya either love it, hate it, OR BOTH. Some of you haven’t tried it yet. Some of you never will. Kind of sums up having children does it?
I can’t recall exactly when my love affair with yoga began, but let me assure you; it definitely was NOT love at first sight. Truth be told, my first date with yoga TOTALLY sucked.
First of all, before the date even started, Yoga wanted me to be quiet-STRIKE 1- I like to talk. Correction: I LOOOVE talking. Besides, how are we going to know if we like each other if we don’t talk?
Our love connection was off to a very rocky start.
Next, YOGA proceeded to tell me to “be still”. Seriously? Who the hell does this YOGA think he is? Doesn’t he realize I’m a mom & dishes don’t wash themselves? I’ve got things to do. Furthermore, when I am still…I start thinking. I think too much…waay toooo much. Strike 2.
The final strike came when Yoga wanted me to set an intention. An intention for what? Staying alive? Fine. My intention was pretty much to try super hard not to throw up or pass out OR die a heaping hot sweaty mess in the middle of all of these toned and tan & oddly serene strangers.
Ok…you win YOGA. I intend to survive this class.
As it turns out, I not only survived the first date; I came back for more.
YOGA and I proceeded to “date” on and off for the next few years. We even broke up a few times (my decision), before I realized that I really missed it..and loved it….and NEEEEEEEEEEEDED IT.
So now we are back together…at least for the time being.
Anyway, I digress. My point was to tell you how lessons learned in YOGA mirror that of my experience in parenting.
Today, I want my children to be responsible, compassionate, passionate about learning, and kind. Tomorrow I intend to not screw them up too much. By Wednesday, my intention is usually not to throw up, pass out or die trying.
Other lessons from “Yoga”…
Namaste…the sweaty hot mess in me honors the sweaty hot mess in you.