I will admit that I have always had some degree of a positive and optimistic outlook but I also had a very dark side where I viewed the world was a horrible place. Horrible things had happened to me and they always would. Danger lurked around every corner and the world was a very, very unsafe place. It got increasingly more unsafe too. I think my optimistic side lived out in public while my pessimistic side lived alone in my head. I could be very dark at times.
Enter CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and a great therapist. Add in time spent in an in-patient PTSD program which also used this technique a lot.
I know most of you are familiar with CBT but I will add an explanation of it here for those who are unfamiliar with it or as a refresher.
This explanation was taken from “Psych Central”.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be used to treat people with a wide range of mental health problems. CBT is based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behaviour) all interact together. Specifically, our thoughts determine our feelings and our behaviour. Therefore, negative – and unrealistic – thoughts can cause us distress and result in problems. When a person suffers with psychological distress, the way in which they interpret situations becomes skewed, which in turn has a negative impact on the actions they take.
CBT aims to help people become aware of when they make negative interpretations, and of behavioural patterns which reinforce the distorted thinking. Cognitive Therapy helps people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which reduce the psychological distress.
After a year of CBT therapy my attitude really did shift. I actually did not realize how much it had changed until being admitted to the hospital program and while listing to some others patients speak, I realized I used to think how they did and now I knew and felt better. My mind didn’t focus on solely the negative aspects of things. I still do and can accept that some situations are just awful, some days really suck, some people are an absolute waste of skin while others are mean or hurtful. I still get triggered, have nightmares, hear voices, see hallucinations… life can be hard. Not just for me but for anyone.
There is a difference in how I see things now though. No matter how horrible something is, I can find its silver lining. It doesn’t take away the hurt or the pain of the situation but it does give my mind a better place to go to when reminded of the event.
Recently my youngest daughter moved out suddenly and it was caused by the most horrid of people. I discussed it more in an earlier blog. How Much More
It hurts. It sucks. It is truly a heartbreaking situation for my husband and I BUT I am choosing now to look at the positives as often as possible.
- When my husband and I got married, I already had 3 very young children. 1, 3 and 5. Now we have some couple time that we’ve never had in all our years together.
- She wanted all her beauty supplies and now my bathroom is MUCH neater.It looks neat and clean. Two things I love.
- I went to get my tweezers last night and they were where I left them. That hasn’t happened in almost 2 decades. I know it is a silly thing but I can’t tell you how nice it was.
- I have much more free time. No running back and forth to school or her boyfriend’s house. No sudden need to run here or there for her.
- My grocery bill, heating bill and water usage have gone WAY down.
- My husband and I are the youngest in his family and we were the only ones with kids still at home. We didn’t join in to a lot of things that they did together as a family because we were busy. Now we can join in more adult get-togethers.
- I have more time for my friends, blogging, and being creative.
I think using CBT is such a valuable skill to learn and I am SO grateful to have been taught it. The event that happens to you may still be a horrible one but there are almost always some positives to be found as well even if those are only things like you learned who that person REALLY was before investing any more time in to them, that guy (or gal) that left you wasn’t going to be there for you and now you are free to find better for yourself, that pain in your back was caused by whatever but at least now you know what it is and can find ways to deal with it better…
It is not easy to change the way that you think but if you have a therapist that uses CBT (ask if you don’t know), really stick with it and work hard. It’s worth it!
If you do not have a therapist, there are quite a few good workbooks that help you practice this skill on your own. I will include a good one at the end of this post.
I think we can all make an effort to do this without help as well. Each time something negative happens, allow yourself to moan about it at first. Talk with a friend if at all possible or write it in a journal but then when you have done that, start to try to find the silver lining. There will be one there. I promise. You just have to be willing to look and start accepting that things are never ALL good or ALL bad. There is very often more of a balance than we see at first glance.