Cognitive Restructuring – Part 1

Managing Your Thought Patterns

Do you ever follow a particular train of thought without consciously deciding to go down that path that has an upsetting ending?

It’s in our nature to develop thought patterns and assumptions about how things work. Without them, we would have to approach every problem as brand new, without drawing on previous experiences or problem-solving techniques.

The issue with these thought patterns is that they are not always accurate. We do not always come up with the best and most effective methods for solving problems, but these unhelpful thinking habits can get saved to our subconscious anyway.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost if you have practised a faulty perspective! A practical process of reframing or restructuring these flawed ways of thinking can help you correct your biased, skewed, or just plain inaccurate beliefs.

Cognitive restructuring, or cognitive reframing, is a process that helps people discover, challenge, modify or replace their negative, irrational thoughts.

Although it may seem overwhelmingly tricky to change your thinking, it is comparable to any other skill – it is hard when you first begin, but with practice, you will find it easier and easier to challenge your own negative thoughts and beliefs.

The first step is identifying in which situations your thoughts are distorted and blown out of proportion. It might be something as simple as when going out with friends and you feel unsure of yourself, or a meeting called by your boss about a work project fills you with anxiety.

Are there scenarios that frequently bring out uncomfortable or painful emotions? Do certain situations tend to have a larger-than-expected impact on your mood?

Do your best to identify as many triggering situations as possible; the more specific they are, the better! It’s beneficial to list your most common or significant triggers when beginning your cognitive restructuring work.