With Self Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Self CBT), you use practical CBT self-help techniques to create positive and immediate changes in your quality of life. (Click here to go straight to a program you can purchase to use on your own at home to learn CBT for panic specifically.)
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for depression, anxiety, and panic, and is also used widely for trauma, obsessive-compulsive disorders, addiction, and chronic pain. It is one of the most common and best-studied therapies out there and is in high demand.
In the CBT perspective, your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviors, and by changing your thoughts your feelings and behaviors will change in turn. Behaviors, too, can be modified to change your thoughts and emotions.
With CBT, you learn to notice your thoughts, identify unhelpful thoughts and thinking patterns, and then work to change those thoughts and form new thinking patterns.
Everyone has some unhelpful thinking styles sometimes because we are all human and none of us are perfect. It’s when your thinking patterns begin to negatively affect your life and your mood that they become a real problem. Following are some common unhelpful thinking styles you can target with CBT.
Black and White Thinking or Polarized Thinking.
With black and white thinking, there is no gray area or middle ground. You see people or situations as good or bad, right or wrong, without any shades of gray to allow for the messy complexity of most humans and situations.
With the fortune-telling style of thinking, you believing you know what’s going to happen in the future and you make predictions with no evidence. “It’ll never work.” “They’re going to forget about me.”
Wearing Gloom Goggles or Mental Filtering.
When you wear “gloom goggles” you magnify negative details while filtering out any positive aspects of a person or situation. You notice the negative while dismissing the positive, darkening and distorting your perception of reality.
With overgeneralizing, you make a general conclusion based on just one incident or piece of evidence. When something bad happens once, you see it as just part of an overall pattern of never-ending bad things happening in your life.
Mind-reading or Jumping to Conclusions.
When you mind-read or jump to conclusions, you think you know what someone is feeling (especially toward you) and why they are acting the way they do, without finding out if you are actually correct. You may also be convinced that a prediction you made with fortune-telling thinking is already an established fact.
When you catastrophize, you expect the worst possible outcome to happen, or you exaggerate the importance of a negative event (such as a mistake made by you or someone else). You assume the worst and disregard any evidence to the contrary.
Personalization is a thinking style where you believe that everything others do or say is a direct personal reaction to you, without considering that the other person may be reacting to other issues in their life. You may also compare yourself to other people to try to determine who is smarter, better-looking, more successful, etc.
Compare and despair.
With this thinking style, you compare the worst of your insides to other people’s best outsides, seeing only the good and positive in others, while comparing yourself negatively against them. You’re comparing your blooper reel to their highlight reel.
When you expect life to be fair, you end up feeling resentful, because life simply isn’t fair. People will disagree with your idea of what is fair, and judging situations by how fair you think they are increases negative emotions. Events won’t always work out in your favor, even if you think they should.
When your critical self takes charge of your thinking, you put yourself down, criticize yourself, and blame yourself for events or situations that are not entirely your responsibility.
Should-ing yourself happens when you have rigid rules about how you or others should behave. When you violate those rules, you feel guilt. “I should have exercised.” “I shouldn’t have said that.” When others violate them, you feel angry and resentful. “He should be able to remember!” or “She shouldn’t have done that.” This thinking style sets up unrealistic expectations and puts excess pressure on you and others.
With blaming, you either blame yourself for every problem, or hold other people responsible for your pain. Nobody else can “make” us feel a certain way, and we are not all-powerful beings who can accept responsibility for every problem.
You believe that your feelings are automatically true – that your negative emotions reflect reality. You feel it, so it must be true. If you feel ugly and stupid, then it’s a fact that you’re ugly and stupid. If you feel anxious or afraid, you believe you must be in danger.
See The Big List of Coping Statements for Stress, Grief, Anxiety, Depression, & More for some examples of helpful thoughts that can replace unhelpful thoughts, changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk. This is also called cognitive reframing.
With changes in thoughts and self-talk, along with changes in behavior, emotions will change, too. Remember, they are all connected.
Just as thoughts are linked to emotions and behaviors, behaviors are also linked to thoughts and emotions. CBT teaches that avoidance of a discomfort only increases your discomfort, and you can modify your behavior to help change your emotions and thoughts.
CBT focuses on the idea that all people have undesirable situations or problems, whether they get upset about them or not. If you are upset about your problems, you now have two problems — the problem itself, and your upset emotions and thoughts about it.
Using a workbook is one of the best ways to begin using CBT on your own. Videos are useful and helpful, but the workbook becomes very specific to you and your situation and challenges, and it can be a welcome and useful reference over time, too. Check out one of the best here: Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think – Book Review
Putting it all together
Self CBT helps you learn how to more calmly react to your personal problems so that you not only feel better, but are also able to use your knowledge, intelligence, energy, and resources to resolve your problem.
It is important to note that using CBT techniques can make you more aware of negative thoughts, which can be overwhelming sometimes. If you need more help to deal with this, please seek therapy or talk to your doctor.
To get a wider and deeper view of CBT and how you can use it to improve your life, here is an in-depth hour-long overview that can give you an excellent foundation in CBT:
With Self Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Self CBT), you can create positive and immediate changes in your quality of life. If you want some extra help, there’s an excellent at-home program available for purchase: CBT4Panic. CBT4Panic was created by practicing professional therapists and is the best at-home CBT program I’ve come across. Click here to check it out. (They have other CBT programs in the works, too, such as CBT4Depression, etc.)
See our self-therapy resources to begin learning and practicing self-help skills and techniques from CBT and other therapies. You can also browse the reviews for recommendations, click the tags on the right-hand side of the page, or search in our search bar for the topic of your choice. Happy healing to you!