The choices you make, the way you feel, and the things you do are all influenced by how you think. Most of the time, though, you aren’t even aware of your thinking. Instead, your thoughts are guided by unconscious beliefs that you’ve absorbed over the years.
If you feel like your life isn’t going the way you’d like, or if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or anger, you could benefit from a short-term type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), otherwise known as cognitive therapy (CT). At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling, our expert counselors help women, men, and teenagers discover and eliminate false negative beliefs.
Each person who undergoes CT receives a customized treatment plan based on their needs. No matter the components in your CT plan, however, with CT you learn to:
Identify your negative beliefs
Beliefs are usually subconscious, which means you aren’t completely aware of them. You probably learned them as a child, from watching and listening to the people around you. Nevertheless, these unconscious, false, negative beliefs guide your perceptions of reality and how you respond to it.
Your therapist talks with you and helps you identify false beliefs that you may not even realize you have. Some examples of false beliefs and negative thinking are:
- I’m not good enough.
- I’ll never be happy.
- I’m a failure.
- If someone doesn’t like me, it’s my fault.
- I can tell what someone else is thinking.
- Life is supposed to be hard.
Even though you aren’t aware of these beliefs, your therapist helps you discover them through talk therapy. For instance, using the word should indicates that you might make decisions based on what you think others expect of you, rather than making the choices that are genuinely your true desires and feelings.
Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts
You may be surprised at the negative thoughts you have. First, your therapist helps you understand the consequences of those negative, false beliefs and thoughts and asks you about where thinking that way could lead you. Also, they ask you what you think you could change if you stopped having that negative thought.
Once you’ve identified a negative thought and decided why it’s helpful to replace it, you and your therapist find a more positive thought to replace it. Some examples include:
- Replacing “I fail no matter how hard I try,” with “It’s OK to make mistakes because I’m always learning and growing.”
- Replacing “I don’t know how to do that; it’s impossible” with “I’ll figure it out eventually.”
- Replacing “That’ll never work” with “I can try to make it work.”
- Replacing “Nobody likes me or wants to be friends with me” with “I can make friends if I try to communicate more openly.”
As with everything — from learning to walk to learning to write — changing your thoughts from negative to positive takes time and practice.
New thoughts bring new life
Practicing positive new thoughts does more than challenge and change your unconscious false beliefs. Thinking more positively and giving yourself permission to try, fail, learn, and grow brings about many other benefits, including:
- Less depression
- Improved immune system
- Greater sense of wellbeing
- Better cardiovascular health
- Stronger coping skills
- More resilience
- Lower levels of stress
Negative thinking impacts your mind and your body, too. Switching to positive thinking improves your mental health, emotional health, and physical health. Positive thinking is even associated with a longer lifespan.
To let go of negative false beliefs and learn how to think positively, use our online form, or call our friendly staff during office hours for a cognitive therapy consultation. We also offer teletherapy through confidential and affordable video/phone consultations.