Sunday, 29 April 2012
Stop Those Negative Thoughts
In order to avoid the potential consequences of depression, it’s first necessary to acknowledge that these thought processes are negative. Only when this is done is it possible to move to a stage where negative thoughts are replaced with more adaptive forms of thinking that will ultimately feel more empowering.
Negative thinking is a key ingredient of depression. People with depression often view the world in very black and white terms. Invariably the negative thoughts relate to them, their perceived worth and abilities and their perceived lack of value. The world of rewards, fun, love and enriching experiences belongs to other people. To the person with depression their future is too chilly and bleak to even consider. They feel trapped and inert, convinced that any attempt to get them feeling better is both futile and doomed.
Everyone interprets situations in different ways. The person predisposed to negative thinking views situations in a typically pessimistic manner. So the goal of therapy is to move these pessimistic thoughts to one side and replace them with more balanced and more optimistic perspectives.
Cognitive therapists place a great deal of emphasis on challenging negative thinking. The patient and their therapist work together to identify situations where negative thinking tends to occur. The therapist then sets about trying to recast these situations in such a way as to place an alternative and more positive interpretation on them. For the patient this can be a very challenging and frustrating experience. Anything that taps into core beliefs is often hard to accept. It requires of the patient a high degree of concentration and a willingness to accept that there a different ways any given situation might be interpreted.
Therapy starts with the person being asked to keep some kind of personal written account of situations where negative thinking is a common feature. They work with the person to disentangle the exact nature and content of these thoughts and the person then begins to sift what is really known from what is surmised. Once the process is complete the therapist will help to suggest alternative and more balanced forms of thinking.
As we rarely stop to reflect on our thought processes and what these may be doing to us, this form of therapy provides a way of highlighting some of the hurdles and blocks that different forms of negative thinking can have on our lives. Challenge the negative thinking and a whole range of possibilities may be illuminated.
Posted by Jerry Kennard at 03:20