As a psychology graduate, I’m constantly trying to apply what I learned in the classroom into the real world. The above picture is a screenshot from one of my lectures in the spring 2015 term, and it’s one that I have always found particularly interesting because of its applicability to everyday life. I’ve had this picture saved onto my desktop for the longest time and recently took another peek at it, which incited today’s post.
What we see above, in context of the lecture, is the basic outline of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) model in clinical psychology, a popular type of therapy used by psychologists. As pretty apparent in the slide image, this therapy involves a psychologist evaluating the situation their patient is in (alongside with the actual patient), and then assessing their thoughts. They try to see how these thoughts then translate into physical symptoms or feelings that they’re experiencing. In turn, it is traceable to how these become the behaviours the patient exhibits. To me, all this is comparable to our life situations.
Okay, now let’s back this up a few steps.
For example, let say Patient X has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder — hang tight, I promise you’ll see how this will be relevant soon — which includes symptoms of situational-induced and “random” bouts of panic, irritability, tension, headaches, sweating, etc. Patient X seeks therapy because they can’t deal with the repercussions of this mental illness and wish to find ways to cope with it. A therapist well-practiced in CBT would look at the patient’s thoughts (i.e., “I’m afraid I’ll get into an accident” or “something negative is bound to happen to me”). Identifying the thoughts can help target the source of the physical symptoms and feelings (i.e., restlessness, edginess, fear, and stress induced by thinking these thoughts regularly). How Patient X thinks, feels, and acts will manifest in their actual behaviours; they may begin walking to work in fear of driving their car or even locking themselves in their house in fear of something negative occurring outside of the home, in a more extreme case. As a result, their behaviours in combination with the aforementioned feelings and thoughts become their life situation. They are all interconnected – one does not exist without the other.
Okay, A+ regurgitation of your lecture, Emily. But what’s the point?
Well, my point is that this model for therapy is a model we should utilize for our whole lives. What we think becomes how we feel, both emotionally and physically. It becomes our behaviours. It becomes our whole life situation. Repetition of negative and discouraging thoughts will lead you to not only feeling mentally crappy, but it can make you feel physically drained, as well. Your actions will reflect this and with enough repetition, quickly become the life you are leading. Likewise, if you fill your mind with an outpour of positive thoughts, you will feel significantly happier and this will manifest itself in your behaviours. This will then become the life you attract to yourself. You must be open to feeling the good things in life in order to recognize them when they’re right in front of you.
If you have the opportunity to pick a dominance of one of these two contradictory ways of life, would you not at least try to root yourself in that which will ultimately benefit your existence? In that which fills you with overwhelming joy?
Be aware of your thoughts. Try to choose the good ones, because those become your “life situation”. 🙂