Maybe that’s a weird thing to be grateful for but I think it has saved my life. Dictonary.com defines cognitive therapy as a type of psychotherapy in which negative patterns of thought about the self and the world are challenged in order to alter unwanted behavior patterns or treat mood disorders such as depression.
My first inkling of the concept I later came to know as cognitive therapy happened while I was making copies at my old day job at Sandalwood Management over 15 years ago. I’ve had a history of negative feelings and self-esteem issues and that day I was feeling down and had been for days. As I watched the original pages flip through the feeder, I asked myself, “Uhh.. what am I feeling badly about again?”
I couldn’t answer the question. At that moment I had this thought: The me of 20 years from now is looking back and thinking, “why did I waste my youth wallowing in sadness about something I can’t even identify?”
It was the first time I chose to feel better.
I’ve struggled with that, like most people, since then. Controlling our feelings is not easy and doesn’t come naturally. Not at all. I’ve gotten myself into big, big trouble several times.
There’s a book I highly recommend called The Feeling Good Handbook. When I first was given this book (thank you, Leila!) I let its size intimidate me out of getting very far into it. The first few exercises were HARD. Knowing there were 500+ more pages of this, I felt hopeless – exactly the way the book was trying to guide me out of feeling!
Over the years I’ve come back to the book. Recently I read almost the entire thing and found that a very significant amount of those pages don’t apply to me or most people at all.
So if you find yourself reading this book, don’t be intimidated! It has whole sections dedicated to schizophrenia, phobias and other serious psychological problems that most people never experience. The whole last third is just for therapists and a lot of it is drug description info.
The best part of the whole book is the very beginning – 10 Forms of Twisted Thinking. This really helped me identify my own issues and take some steps – baby steps for a long time – to fixing my twisted ways of thinking.
The next best part is the chapter I wish I had read years and years ago about the steps of intimate communication.
Along with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I think this book should be required reading for all humans.