It all comes down to the subconscious. These thoughts, whether positive or negative, have a great influence on a person’s general outlook on life and experiences. One useful tool in taking control of the subconscious is to apply Cognitive Behavioral Therapy when these unpleasant feelings surface.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, places a focus on “exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” It works to understand the pattern of emotions that can lead someone to have anxious, panicked or depressed thoughts.
Therapists often use this on clients with those who are trying to achieve a certain goal in life, like quitting smoking or losing weight. But therapists aren’t the only people who can do this—anyone can try it at home to improve his or her life.
Based on an adaptation by West Virginia University’s Student Health Center, there are several key steps to getting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy right.
Step 1: Identify the root
Get out a pen and notebook and think about the last time anxious or unsettling feelings occurred. What were you thinking about before experiencing that reaction? What were you doing? Try to be as detailed as possible.
Step 2: Consider the negative thoughts
Take those negative thoughts and follow them through. For example, maybe you’re afraid that you’ll never meet a boyfriend or girlfriend. You worry you’ll be the lonely person at all of your friends’ weddings, and you experience a feeling of fear that cuts you to the core. Challenge this thought with questions like: Is there any evidence supporting the fear of being single forever? What’s the worst case scenario? Is it really that bad—or even that likely?
Step 3: Be real with yourself
It’s by no means easy, but it is essential. Sit down and think about how realistic your fears are, and remember that most often, the things we fear are out of our control. Try to write down a list of five or ten things you can do if you start feeling negative responses to thoughts. The purpose is to rewire your brain with positivity. Keep in mind that this may take some time, so be patient. Results will come if you work at it.