Today’s blog topic is on the thought correction part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Thought correction is an incredibly important part of helping to overcome depression because it is often our thoughts that ruminate in our heads which feed into depression. At its most basic, thought correction involves removing the feeling aspect from the thought and taking a look at the actual facts. To use thought correction is to turn the negative thought into reality and making it a positive one.
One common thought many people with mental illness have is that if there life had only taken a different path things would be a whole lot better. We spend an unhealthy amount of time wishing that we had made different choices in life and made better decisions. Now it is time to analyze this thought because this is a a thought with precious little based in reality. We have no way of knowing for sure that if we made different choices in life that the outcome would be any better, indeed they could be worse. The only thing that we can say for sure is that our lives would be different. There is no guarantee that things would be better.
The mental illness community also has a tendency to go very hard on ourselves about our intelligence (or feeling a lack thereof) and our attractiveness. I know that often I have the feeling and thought that if I were only more intelligent, I could, say, work in an engineering discipline. The simplest way to correct this thought is to realize that intelligence is not simply linear/logical but it has other forms like creative, emotional, expressive, and artistic. I may not have a mind for engineering but I have a rather bright mind for creative and artistic expression. Similarly, attractiveness knows so many different shapes, sizes, and looks. You will always be attractive to somebody, just like somebody will always be attractive to you.
Sometimes the mental illness community goes hard on ourselves by comparing ourselves to others that we might feel are more successful than us. The reality is that each person is unique and different and we cannot compare ourselves to others; it is a comparison of apples and oranges. Our own successes will be different than other people’s and every bit as important. We will be successful in our own individual way. What society at large deems as successful is really just some completely arbitrary and capricious standard. I consider success to be simply living and contributing to someone else’s life in some meaningful and positive way. Success need not be some grand venture, it can be something small, simple, and every bit as meaningful.
Thought correction is not easy to do and it takes practice, especially for someone accustomed to negative thinking. If you are having difficulty with it, practice saying to yourself, “Stop!” when you are having the negative thought and then correct it with the corresponding positive one. Until you become good at it, put the thoughts to pen and paper as seeing what you are thinking often makes correcting the thought easier. You can try using a format similar to the one below:
Negative Thought Positive Thought How I Feel Now