Addressing Compelling Thoughts With Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

Tackling compelling thoughts with cognitive behavioral techniques

Cognitive-behavioral techniques can be very helpful in removing the influence of compelling thoughts. These are thoughts that enter our minds and plunge us into their poisonous mist. But before our anxiety levels get worse and lead to greater cognitive decline, we can use these simple strategies on a daily basis.

Some readers may not have heard of cognitive behavioral therapy. Then you will be surprised to learn that it is one of the most used “tool case” in the typical practice of every psychologist. One of the pioneers of this form of therapy is Aaron Beck. After years of relying on psychoanalysis, he came to realize that he needed a different approach.

Most people with depression, anxiety, stress or the effects of trauma have a second self within them. It is an obsessive, negative, crushing “I” that plunges them into a continuous dialogue from which they find it difficult to escape.

The interest of Dr. Beck set out to understand and resolve these damaging dynamics. So he changed his therapeutic approach to one he found more useful: cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral techniques have been proven to be incredibly effective in clinical practice. If we gradually succeed in changing our thinking patterns, that profound negative emotional charge will weaken. We can then make changes and behave in a healthier way.

Compelling thoughts

Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques in Compelling Thoughts

Having obsessive negative thoughts is a huge source of suffering. It is something that can intensify the cycle of anxiety. It can dig us deeper into our pit. We then surround ourselves with images, impulses, and ways of reasoning that do not help us but completely overshadow our sense of control.

In this case, hearing someone say “Keep calm. Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened yet,” doesn’t help. Like it or not, your mind is an endless bustle of ideas. But what it produces doesn’t always help us achieve our goals or feel better.

We all have absurd and useless ideas. But under normal circumstances, we don’t give this reasoning too much power. On the contrary, we prefer to give priority to encouraging and helpful thoughts.

When we go through periods of stress or anxiety, compelling thoughts are more likely to occur. We also usually give these thoughts more power than they deserve. We now look at how cognitive behavioral techniques can help us in these moments.

Compelling thoughts

1. Write down your thoughts

By writing down our thoughts we can approach our mental processes in a logical way. Just think of someone who is afraid of losing their job. He just becomes obsessed with the fact that the boss thinks he’s doing everything wrong.

This cycle can eventually lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because by thinking that he can do everything wrong, sooner or later he will do it too (he will get into a very negative state of mind, for example). To have a better sense of control, balance and coherence, there is nothing more useful than writing down our compelling thoughts.

All you have to do is write down every negative idea that appears in your mind. Then you write down the truth. “I just know that everything I’ve done at work is wrong.” Is there even one indication that this is true? Is the manager watching me? What did I do differently today to think I was so bad?”

2. Plan Positive Activities

Plan rewarding activities throughout your day. Because something as simple as “quality time for yourself” has very positive results. It stops you from thinking too much. These activities can be very simple and short-lived. For example, you can go out for coffee with a friend. Give yourself a break. Buy a book, make a nice meal, listen to music, and so on.

3. Arrange your worries.

Compelling thoughts are like smoke coming out of the chimney. It is the heat of something that burns within us. That internal fire is made of our unresolved problems that only get worse over time.

  • The first step to taking control of the focus of our thoughts, feelings, and concerns is to clarify them. How can we clarify them? You can do this by arranging your problems. List your concerns from lowest to highest.
  • Start by writing down everything that worries you. Try to visualize all the chaos that is inside you, just like a brainstorm.
  • Then you make a sequence. Start with you seeing minor issues and end with the most crippling worries that feel like they’re too much.
  • Once you have a visual sequence, think about each point. Try to think rationally and find solutions to any problem.
Compelling thoughts

4. Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is a common type of distortion. For example, if I’ve had a bad day and feel frustrated, I start to see life as an endless dark tunnel. Another idea that often occurs is that if someone disappoints me, it’s because I don’t deserve love.

To address this, we can use a different cognitive-behavioral technique. We must learn to apply objectivity on a daily basis. For we must not forget that our emotions are not always indicative of an objective truth. They are just instantaneous moods that we must understand and master.

5. Avoiding Compulsive Thoughts

Whether we like it or not, there are always situations that tempt us to fall again into the abyss of compelling thoughts. Journaling is one way to pay attention to these situations. Sometimes something as simple as writing down our feelings daily can make us more aware of things.

Write down everything that comes to your mind. Describe the situations when you experienced certain feelings. Perhaps there are people, habits, or scenarios that make you lose control or make you feel vulnerable.

By keeping better notes of our day we will see what these things are. We will then be able to avoid reacting to them in a negative way (and it can even help us control them).

Compelling thoughts

In conclusion, we would like to mention that there are many cognitive behavioral techniques. They can be useful in these cases and in many other situations, when we need to control anxiety, stress and depression. There are also good books on this subject, such as Aaron Beck’s book: Cognitive Therapy of Anxiety Disorders: Science and Practice. 

We have the power to acquire and develop skills that allow us to cope with life. Because life is complex. Sometimes we need help to understand what is going on in our minds.

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