This may seem like another simplistic new age concept, but, in reality, it is quite true. The way you react to the people and events around you is directly related to the thoughts in your head. We all have an unending stream of internal dialogue going on in our minds. If our thoughts (cognitive) are negative or unrealistic, we interact with the world in a negative or unrealistic way (behavior).
All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth
People with substance abuse disorders are often plagued with negative or irrational thought patterns they may not even be aware of. Here are some examples of harmful thinking patterns:
“Should” or “Ought” Thoughts: A set of rules for behavior has been established (in your mind) that you or others must adhere to. One example of this type of thought is ”I should have a good job and a family by now.”
Black and White Thinking: Everything is either one way or the other. There is no “gray area.” One example would be getting a bad grade on a test and thinking, “I am bad at math,” instead of “I got a bad grade but can do better next time.”
Minimalizing or Magnifying: One bad thing can be a catastrophe or one positive event matters very little. Letting a flat tire ruin your week would be an example.
Overgeneralization: Broad generalizations are made based on limited experience. For instance, one might think that if one person in a group is rude, then everyone in that group is rude.
Labeling: Your shortcomings define you. Instead of saying “I need to learn more about traffic rules,” you say, “I am a terrible driver.”
Personalization and Blame: Blaming yourself for something you didn’t do or not taking into account your part in a problem. An example would be, ”It’s my fault my parents broke up,” or “She is being difficult,” when you said something to upset someone.
Emotional Reasoning: How you feel determines how you react. For example, “I feel stupid, so I must be stupid.”
Jumping to Conclusions: Your perception of an event is based on mind reading or foreseeing the future. A sour expression on someone’s face is interpreted as “He is mad at me,” or “I will mess up this job interview because I always do.”
Negative Filter: Dwell on the negative and discount the positive. An example would be “If I got an A on that test it must be easy.”
“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things.”
Many of these patterns become core beliefs that we carry with us through life. Past events, trauma, and upbringing can cause us to believe things like “I am not good enough” or “the world is a dangerous place.” This causes us to perceive information through a lens that can distort our perception of reality. These thoughts can trigger negative emotions, justify addictive behavior, and can lead to anxiety, depression, and risk-taking behavior.
How can someone begin thinking in more healthy ways? It is very difficult to do alone but with therapy it can be accomplished. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a hands-on, practical way to change attitudes and thinking patterns, which will ultimately change the way one behaves.
Many of us see the world through a distorted filter. With willingness and CBT, we learn that it is our attitude and the personal meaning that we attach to events and things that determine how we feel about them and ultimately react to them. These attitudes and meanings are not necessarily based on truth. With negative internal thought patterns, we become trapped in a cycle of negative emotions and behaviors that we think are appropriate, but perhaps are not based in reality.
One example of this kind of thinking would be someone’s reaction to a social event. Someone with distorted thinking may say to herself, ”I am terrible and awkward at parties (Labeling). No one will talk to me (Jumping to Conclusions).” Because she thinks these thoughts, and believes them, she will not go to the party. Perhaps if she went to the party she would make connections and have a good time. Instead, she stays home and thinks,” I should have gone. I let everyone down. I am a failure.” She feels worse and will have a hard time attending the next party because she associates such negative feelings with parties.
With Cognitive Behavior Therapy, the woman in the example above would keep a thought record and become aware of how her thinking dictates her emotions and actions. With her therapist, she could learn to replace these internal thoughts with healthy alternatives. With healthy thinking, healthy emotions and actions follow. Depression and feelings of failure will be replaced with hopefulness and positivity. In the future she may want to go to a party.
Not only does CBT work, it works quickly. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is evidence based, which means it has been proven to work. It even works better than anxiety and depression medications. CBT is a structured program tailored to each client’s individual needs. At the onset, client and therapist pinpoint specific problems (ie: trouble sleeping, anxiety at work, relationship problems) to work on.
Structured Treatment facilitates success. Sessions are once a week for 50 minutes. During this period the client and therapist work on the strategy they have devised to alleviate the issue. Emotional problems can be addressed and healed in 5-10 months. The results are lasting and patient leaves with a set of tools and principles they can use for a lifetime.
CBT can treat the following issues:
In short, CBT can work wonders, especially for someone with substance abuse disorder. After therapy, a client has the self-awareness to monitor and change his or her thinking patterns from negative to realistic. They can change their core beliefs from childhood trauma from fanciful and harmful to sensible and practical. They emerge with a new way of looking and reacting to life without relying on drugs for mood elevation or coping purposes. Healing from within is possible.
Ventura Recovery Center is a first rate recovery center where you or your loved ones will receive the highest level of care for their addiction. Everyone staff member is personally invested into the recovery of their clients.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
Our passion at VRC is to give active adults the tools to regain life from the grips of drug and alcohol addiction. We are located in Thousand Oaks, which is in the Los Angeles area. We serve clients from the southern California region; Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange Counties as well as all around the country.
We are ending drug and alcohol addiction one person at a time, one day at a time.