Today I would like to share with you some information and some effective, achievable tips and tools from a mindset technique called Cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT for short.
CBT is about understanding your thinking and your thoughts and your subsequent behaviour that is associated with your thoughts.
This is all about your mental health and how you take back the reigns so that you have more command and mastery over your head space. It is worth it. I promise, it is worth it.
This program contains information and tools that cover our whole person, our spiritual self, our energy system, our nutritional system, working with self supporting and powerful habits and rituals and very importantly, letting go of old baggage and old belief systems. So, this is a holistic whole person approach program.
We can also look at our human nature and our outcomes in our life from the perspective of our cognitive functioning, what are we doing with our brain muscle. The brain is more complex then space apparently and we are only now really starting to understand what the different hemispheres do and how they function and therefore how they disfunction. I won’t go into all the science here, I’m just going to share some quick facts and some useful tools.
This is about thinking about how we are thinking. Easier said then done, but, it’s a powerful practice. And, vital to our wellness, knowing how to be in head space and how to be in heart space. We need balance and being in head space too much will lead to stress, difficulties unwinding, difficulty sleeping, difficulty making decisions and more.
Cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, is about noticing how we feel, noticing what type of thoughts preceded those feelings and how we behave as a result. Ultimately it is about identifying the validity or usefulness of certain thoughts.
How do our thoughts effect our emotions, our actions and our limits and our relationships and very importantly, our health. It is possible to think ourself unwell and it is possible to think ourself well. You know the old saying, I’m worried sick!
We want to get used to asking ourselves, are my thoughts generating positive vibration/state or negative vibration/state? Is my thought a fact or am I filtering life into a distortion of the facts? Faulty thinking.
For example… “When I think a certain way, I feel horrible and I make less than good choices as a result. Next, I feel a bit disempowered, I may even lash out at others because somehow some of how I am feeling is their fault”. It’s like… “I just can’t do some parts of life very well and it scares me.”
This sense of noticing our thinking can be applied to the positive and the negative aspects of our life. Because we like to identify, what IS working well, what IS functioning well and we want to do MORE of that. After all, this program is about positive change. It is about, realistic, tangible, lasting change. Change does not have to come in like a wrecking ball. It can be about slight shifts that have long term gains.
Often, when people are struggling with an area in their life, say in their relationship or their career or their finances or their health or they are trapped in some kind of addiction, like drinking or smoking or gambling or bad nutrition or any unhealthy practice, as a part of overcoming these issues, it is important to look for what is known as ‘the exceptions’. Meaning, when is it that you don’t partake in this unhelpful behaviour? When is this problem not in your life? When is it that you are able to not drink or not smoke or not fight or not eat poorly or not gamble etc. Or when is it that you do sleep well, or feel happiest, or experience less or no anxiety? And really shine a light on where you ARE getting life right.
What are those strengths or strategies that you manage to call on in the times where you do get it right. What is it in your thinking or in your environment, that means the problem or the habit or the negative behaviour is not happening? Just a heads up, never in any of this program are we going to bash ourselves up or pick on or put undue pressure on ourself. The rule here is, always be gentle and kind with our self. So, back to it, looking for exceptions is important when we are working with cognitive behavioural techniques. We need to wake ourselves up and really become mindful and aware of how we are using our mind. I often take people with me to sit on the moon and we look out across the broad landscape of your life and we observe you, with openness and love and curiosity, so we can learn what is going on, so we can make some necessary observations to know how to make the necessary adjustments.
Today I wanted to sharpen your awareness for how to identify ‘WHEN you are feeling bad”, WHEN do you reach for that poor thought or unwanted behaviour or that addiction? WHEN do you decide to argue or WHEN do you find you get anxiety or depressed? WHEN do you self sabotage etc., and help you to work backwards from there to notice, what is it that lead you to that disfunctional or to that unhappy, unhelpful negatively vibrating place. Because ideally, when we can understand our triggers and our cycles and patterns and our propensity to have certain types of thoughts that don’t serve us and that don’t lead us to the life and outcomes we desire, we need to interrupt those patterns and cycles.
Our brain is designed to find the easy road. It is a machine that looks for patterns and patterns become habits. Our brain is a habit machine. Not all of our habits are conscious and not all of our habits serve us. It’s helpful to know, we don’t just get rid of a habit, (unless you get hypnotherapy), we override our habit with a new habit. And we need to build on and strengthen the new habit, how ever and when ever possible.
Our cognitive mind is like training a puppy. We need to find our unhelpful cycle, interrupt and break the cycle and replace the cycle. Create a new cycle and work it in.
We more often than not, can’t change other people. We more often than not can’t change the world around us and we can’t rely on either of these things changing before we allow ourselves to have more capacity over our own emotional regulation and our own inner strength and inner peace. If things outside of our control have the control over our experiences and our inner strength and inner peace and our wellness and happiness, this is called ‘conditional love’ or ‘conditional happiness’ or ‘conditional joy’. You allow yourself to feel good or to love yourself, only under certain conditions. This is a faulty program. For example, your spouse or child washes up after a meal or does something just how you want things done, and that’s when you allow yourself to feel good and let them feel your joy, but it’s only after they behave a certain way that you allow yourself to feel ‘good’ and not really before a certain condition is met. This is ‘conditional’ happiness. Your joy and happiness is conditional on circumstances outside of yourself. This is dangerous to our happiness and it easily leads to depression or being a control junkie.
So, how can you make ‘feeling good’, feeling how you ideally want to feel on a daily basis, a part of WHO you are, as a part of your natural character and how you ‘show up’ daily in life, despite things going on around you that are less then ideal? You do this by not making how you want to ideally feel, conditional on external things having to be a certain way before you allow yourself to feel good or to feel how you want to ideally feel in life. By the way, how you ideally want to vibrate (your state) or feel in a general sense on a daily basis is what I call your BASE STATE.
YOU decided how you want to feel and how you want to vibrate on a daily basis and you hold yourself in that state deliberately.
For me I choose optimism, inner peace, contentment and openness. Not turned up to 10 on the volume knob, just a subtle sense of those states. I want to, and consciously choose to, feel these things as my ‘base state’. Therefore when I find myself slipping away from sitting in this energy or state and feelings, I look at how I am thinking about things. What am I doing with my mindset? How is that particular thought, shaping and impacting on my feelings and my biological state? And very very importantly, what is a thought that I can reach for in this moment instead that can bring me closer to sitting back into my chosen base state of gratitude, optimism, inner peace, contentment and openness?
What is the meaning and the energetic/emotional weight I have given certain thoughts about life circumstances that cause me to feel an absence of my joy or inner peace?
Is this thought or this meaning I am making sabotaging my base state?
How can I interrupt this unhelpful thought cycle?
This mindset activity is a daily practice. It is not a one time set and forget exercise, it becomes a way of being. It is mindfulness and it keeps us well and healthy. It is like vitamins for your mindset.
I have a series of practices that I have in my lifestyle to help maintain this way of being. Starting from being very conscious with my first thoughts as soon as my eyes open in the morning. I have micro tools that I tap into all day long that are like being obsessed with wellness. They are very tangible, achievable, effective tools that anyone can use at any time.
It only requires mindfulness and a deliberate desire to think and act in the best interests of your wellness. I stretch quite a few times through the day. I sit up straight so many times through the day. I practice deep breathing several times a day. I pray several times a day or meditate if you want to call it that. I drink loads of water. Eat great nutritional food.
Create still moments to not think at all (maybe pull out a few weeds or walk the dogs). Listen to little pod casts. Partake in hobbies (singing). Contemplate my goals and my priorities. Get to bed at a reasonable time. Nurture a good sleep environment. No caffeine after 3pm. Keep my home clean. Nurture my relationship with my husband and my family. Go the the gym. Take probiotics and consider my gut health. Listen to meditations and affirmations. Journal (not every day). Work in a field that fills my heart. Surround myself with things that bring me joy. Photos or musical instruments etc. Maintain certain social contacts. Sing professionally. Get into nature. Meditate or reflect inwardly daily. Reset my energy every day.
Every little extra thing fills up my life’s tapestry and helps to hold me in a state of my choosing. There are times when unexpected life comes in a pulls the rug out from under me or causes rumbles. However, recovery is quick and maintaining my base state isn’t too far out of reach at any point. This wasn’t always the way. I have nurtured this into being.
As a mindset tool, I have learned the liberating skill of ‘letting go’ and of not making things ‘matter’. When you have sat in the same room with loved ones as they leave this life, it tends to give you a profound look at what actually really matters, and what does not really matter. That is my personal ‘negative cycle’ breaker or interrupter. I find a way to shape most any situation into the shape of a thought that allows me to hold my joy and inner peace in place. It isn’t to say that there is no place for all of our emotions. Of course there is a time and a place for all of our emotions. I am talking about being good at regulating them.
I am trying to share the process of being very conscious and very mindful of thinking about our thinking. Observing our thinking as though we are the observer or our thoughts, curiously pondering how we think and if that thinking is going to deliver us to our ideal outcomes. This will build our mindset self master muscle.
This is a very useful, real, effective technique used by counsellors and psychologists working with people who need to change their life, break out of cycles and transform their vulnerabilities. This is not a silver bullet and I will always say this, it is a technique, a tool, a very very powerful and very very effective one. It is one tool to have in your transformation kit so that you thrive in your life as opposed to being in survival mode. This tool becomes your daily practice and habit. It becomes your personality.
The process includes, finding your thought. Tracing back what triggered that thought. Understand the trigger. Have a contingency plan so you either, don’t get triggered or so that you have a thought or an inner script or an affirmation ready to go in order to break the cycle. The cycle goes like this… trigger, thought, emotion, action, outcome.
Often, that trigger is a primary emotion, however you get distracted by the secondary emotion. However the primary emotion is caused by something very deep in our psyche, that we are not consciously aware of. We explore this in the beliefs section of this program.
A quick go to negative trigger interrupter, is to have some really joyous memories or experiences that you can reflect on in order to help pull you up out of that thought spiral and change up the chemical balance in your brain. After all, we are all biochemical creatures and managing our triggers is managing the chemicals in our brain. Like the nasty stress hormone, cortisol. Nasty in high doses. Or like adrenalin which takes 20 minutes to run it’s course through your blood stream once it has been triggered.
The Mind. The Brain. Your Programs Roslyn Loxton Mindset Coaching
To share an example, you may find, when you get home from work, the first thing you do is pour a glass of wine. Not so bad right. However the regularity of this cycle will create a pattern. Wine is just one quick example. The pattern often gets bigger. Because let’s face it, life stresses can seem to get bigger and we tend to cope less and feel more overwhelm. One glass often turns into 2 glasses and can advance into a whole bottle. You then feel sluggish through the day. You may even feel overweight. Bloated. If your honest, you actually feel a bit bad about yourself. It effects your self esteem, how you feel about yourself in your business or at work and in your relationship. You may get headaches or feel irritable and have less capacity or less self mastery to cope with daily demands and it makes you feel like, having wine to help you cope. And so the cycle deepens.
In this example in order to interrupt your cycle, you would change your mind’s habit before you even get home after work. You work on interrupting your cycle on the way home from work. Driving home and getting home is almost the trigger for thinking about the wine and then going straight to the wine. As I mentioned, this wine example is just a quick easy subject to use to demonstrate a pattern and a cycle.
Even talking about having a wine with a colleague at work can start the cycle and your urges all think its time to fire up.
So, change what you normally do when you get home. Put your bag somewhere different. Go into a different room. For example, go to the bathroom and brush teeth. Or if you really have to grab a beverage, replace it with a lemon water or something else. Maybe have a really yummy drink you can make that is a bit of a relaxing ritual to prepare, so you break the old physical cycle and you break the thought cycle.
You are starting to practice your healthy micro habits. Taking command of your biological functions.
You might do affirmations on your way home from work, and focus on something great you are working on like a hobby. Or focus on something you would like to do or achieve or create etc. Listen to an audio book or some great music that takes you somewhere mentally. Don’t put ridiculous pressure on these activities to cure a huge pattern in your life, but rather, start the process of micro habits because micro habits all add up. If you put too much pressure on any of these micro processes, you are partaking in negativity or putting to much pressure on yourself and you will pull your own rug out from under yourself. Be gentle and kind with yourself AT ALL TIMES. Reach for the thoughts that bring you relief. Reach for the thoughts that help you feel optimistic or excited or grateful about something. Reach for the thoughts that help you to let go of what is holding you in grief or overwhelm or negativity.
Getting back to the ‘wine habit’ example, even before all of this, you might change your thoughts as you do your grocery shopping. You might change the repertoire of things you let yourself think about and tell yourself something different when you pass the bottle shop. So, ultimately you don’t even purchase the wine. Not having the wine in the house is a way of setting yourself up for success, if reducing your drinking was a goal for you.
If you become mindful of your thinking habits, and you start to take more conscious charge to shape and guide your thoughts differently, micro moment by micro moment, this is reprogramming your cognitive habits. It is managing that monkey mind that could otherwise drive you crazy.
Whether you’re on your way home from work or at any time through the day, and before you go to sleep at night, you can change your routines in order to break patterns and programs so you can form more satisfying, empowering, healthier, better vibrating, better serving habits and patterns.
So just to wrap up.
The thoughts leading up to your choices and actions are powerful and you totally have the capacity to notice them and to change them. This is interrupting the program you may be unconsciously running.
Sit down with pen and paper and write out areas in your life that you feel might benefit from this pattern breaking CBT technique. Then draw a circle and put some dots on the circle like a clock face and the dots are the numbers. Then name the parts of the cycle that lead to the undesired outcome. Name the dots as each step in the cycle… For example, in the 12 o’clock position of the clock face you might write, I stay up too late. Then in the 1 o’clock position you might write, I look at my phone while I’m in bed. In the 2 o’clock position you might write, I think about all the things that happened through the day. Then, I re-live some of the moments. Followed by, I feel anxious about things. Followed by, I take too long to fall asleep. Followed by, I wake up sluggish. Followed by, my first thought is, can I pull a sickie today, or can I hit snooze. I think about how bad I feel and how I don’t want to get up or go to work, I run late. I don’t eat a nutritional breakfast. I do have a coffee though otherwise I’m no good to anyone. I get home and I’m exhausted and I notice my husband hasn’t cleaned the sink. I get angry and yell at him and I go straight to the fridge for a wine to self sooth. There is stress in the household.
This example is heavily focused on wine however, you will have programs and patterns running in several areas of your life. Some are not serving you and they lead to anxiety, depression or some other kind of un-wellness.
So, identifying the outcome you want to change, and identifying the cycle or pattern that holds that outcome in your life is a conscious, empowered way of taking command of your own biology and consequently your quality of life.
The Mind. The Brain. Your Programs Roslyn Loxton Mindset Coaching
So, name each part of the cycle and notice where you can change the cycle. Where can you exit the cycle so that it does not go all the way around the cycle, but rather it gets interrupted and replaced with different thoughts and actions that begin to change your cycle and your life in a more deliberate, desired kind of way. Micro steps and gently, gently. And if you drop the ball, take a deep breath, be gentle with yourself, and pick the ball back up. Don’t give up. Start again.
And on top of all of this, and we will get to this subject in the last module, you need to have a good sense about your goals and the bigger picture of your life. Who you want to be showing up as and what you want to achieve and experience in your life. You need to be passionate and purposeful and sure about what you want your life to be about, because it is your big ‘Y’ in life, your engagement with your bigger life story and picture, your sense of being on some kind of purpose in this life, that fuels your will power and your propensity to change when change might otherwise be hard or easy to disbelieve in or to procrastinate on.
Align your hearts deepest will and with your minds most determined commitment and be gentle with yourself. Align your hearts deepest will and with your minds most determined commitment and be gentle with yourself. Align your hearts deepest will and with your minds most determined commitment and be gentle with yourself. And if you drop the ball, be gentle with yourself, take a big breath, and pick the ball up and start again.
And lastly, remember to build the daily habit of consciously choosing thoughts that move you closer to your desired base state and that feel like positive vibrations in your body. Remember to do this as often as possible through the day. Create the micro habit. When we drop the ball, we take a breath, we be gentle on ourselves and we use the resolve of our higher self to do what ever it takes to pick our ball back up again. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
With a brain that can have up to 70,000 thoughts a day, it really does benefit us to be the director of those thoughts as opposed to falling victim to our monkey mind. When you first start, the monkey mind is going to be stronger then your director. But each day, as you practice and practice and practice, your director will become stronger then your monkey mind. AND. IT. IS. WORTH. THE. EFFORT.
Life Coach Brisbane, Brisbane Life Coach,