Train you mind to change your brain: Restructure mind from addiction-based to recovery-based with CBT! – Part One

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Train you mind, change your brain: The Power of CBT!

When we change the way we think, we change the way we feel and behave. This new understanding of the relationship between our thoughts and feelings was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1950s. He named this approach cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT starts with the idea that what we think determines how we feel, which in turns determines how we choose to behave. In other words, the way we think about the events that take place in our lives is frequently the source of our distress.  This is key for those in recovering from addiction who experience persistent negative thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.


ABC’s of CBT


Cognitive Distortions

CBT teaches us how to uncover the relationships among activating events, irrational beliefs, and self-destructive patterns of behavior. These irrational beliefs are called cognitive distortions. CBT also teaches us how to restructure our thoughts in ways that produce more accurate, rational beliefs and behaviors.

10 Major Cognitive Distortions

(excerpted From The Feeling Good Handbook by David D. Burns, MD)
  1. All-or-nothing thinking. You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfection, you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Overgeneralization. You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental filter. You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  4. Discounting the positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that support your conclusion.
    1. Mind reading. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    2. Fortune-telling. You anticipate things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  6. Magnification. You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or another’s imperfections).
  7. Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  8. “Should statements.” You try to motivate yourself with “should” and “shouldn’ts,” as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  9. Labeling and mislabeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a moron!” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  10. Personalization and blame. You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.
    (10 Major Cognitive Distortions

Next week, in Part Two of “Train your mind, Change your Brain” you will learn how to spot the distortions that interefere with your recovery.   Til then, Stay Sober!

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