Building your Repertoire with More Cognitive Behavioral Techniques?
Building your repertoire with more cognitive behavioral techniques is a great idea.
I’ve already spoken about talking back to your thoughts and how valuable a cognitive behavioral technique that is. But there are other techniques such as resistance, using a depression-fighting pledge, relaxation techniques, depression-fighting visualization, reframing, and reality testing that work wonderfully too. Ready to get started building your repertoire?
Building a repertoire with more cognitive behavioral techniques requires learning, then practice. It’s time to start.
One of the first cognitive behavioral techniques to add to your repertoire is that of resistance or getting angry at your depression. Think about this. Depression will eat you up if you don’t fight it. So resistance or getting mad at your depression is a good first step in sending your depression scrambling.
How do you do this? Start by screaming at your depression. That’s right. Put it in a corner and square off with it. Berate the universe for giving you depression. Attack your pillow while you rage at your parents, grandparents, and everyone else in your whole extended family for having sucky genes. Go outside and howl. Kick the dirt. Scream that you don’t deserve the pain. And you’re right, you don’t. But the person with cancer doesn’t deserve that either. Or the child born with cerebral palsy. Whatever you do, let the anger out. Then, when you’re done, let it go. You’ve got work to do. Once you accept that you have depression and you hate it, you can get started on getting rid of it.
Here’s a cognitive behavioral technique to use once you’ve dealt with your anger. Everyday when you wake up, recite a depression fighting pledge. You can use the one from my book below or you can write your own.
THE DEPRESSION-FIGHTING PLEDGE
“I hate the fact that I have depression and it makes me angry that I have to fight a battle that so many other people don’t have to fight. But my depression has already robbed me of so much. I’m tired of being sad. I want to live. I want to savor the beauty of life, to challenge myself and to live fully and richly. This is the only life I have in this world and I want to live it. I will fight my depression. I will build my repetorie of cognitive behavioral techniques with which to fight. I will fight hard. I will fight today. And every day. And I will win.”
When you are done with your pledge, you are ready for the next cognitive behavioral technique: relaxation before your depression fighting visualization.
Go into an empty room where you will not be disturbed. Turn off all electronic devices. Choose the most comfortable chair in the room to sit. Close your eyes and relax. With your mouth closed, take a very deep breath through your nose. Fill your lungs completely with the air. When you feel that you cannot possibly take in any more air, slowly start counting to three. Count like you did when you were a kid: One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi. Then, make a tight circle with your lips and blow out very slowly. Control your air flow. You should feel your shoulders relax. After you release all the air from your lungs, make the circle with your lips again, and blow out more air. Do this slowly. Now you should feel the muscles in your stomach relax. Repeat this exercise three times. When this exercise is done, you are ready to do the depression-fighting visualization.
With your eyes closed imagine yourself as a soldier, fighting your enemy: your depression. Different parts of your depression will be represented by different enemy soldiers. Your job is to defeat them. So here’s the exercise. With your eyes closed, visualize yourself on a hilly battleground. See yourself as strong and tall and holding a rifle with one hand. See your other hand resting on a cannon. Look across the field and see many soldiers. They are your opposers, your enemies. Zoom in on the different soldiers. See the fat one; see the tall and skinny one. Imagine each as representing a different part of your depression. As you look from soldier to soldier, identify the role that each plays in your depression. Perhaps the first soldier is the part of your depression that makes you sleep so much. Perhaps the next soldier is the part that makes you so irritable or makes you loose interest in the things you used to love. Now, staring down the soldiers, lift your rifle, and take aim. Then, go to your cannon and shoot. Take down your enemies. End victorious. When you finish your visualization, repeat your Depression Fighting Pledge.
Another cognitive behavioral technique is Reality Testing. Reality testing is a bit like talking back to your automatic thoughts, but this time you are checking out your perceptions of other people’s beliefs. Do other people believe what you think they do or are your perceptions skewed?
Let me give an example. Suppose you think your wife is sick of you. Perhaps you think that she would much prefer getting divorced, but she just doesn’t have it in her to ask you for one. If these are your thoughts, you must be walking around feeling pretty lousy about yourself and your relationship. Because you do, you probably hold back from giving your wife your all and you are probably skeptical of any nice thing she does for you. Well, try asking her. Does she want a divorce?
“What?,” you say.
“That’s right! Try asking her. Find out the truth.”
“Why would I do that?” you say. “She might tell me she doesn’t want to be with me.”
“Well, wouldn’t you rather know? Wouldn’t you rather be apart than to be together in a relationship that lacks honesty and passion?” The trick to finding out the truth is to ask for it honestly. Tell your wife (or whomever you are asking) that you honestly want to know. Tell her that whatever the answer is, you and she will be better off knowing the truth. In the situation above, it will hurt if your wife no longer wants to be with you, but at least you no longer will be deceiving yourself. And someday, you may find another. If you learn that your beliefs are false and that your wife does want to be with you, you will stop holding back and you will start giving all of which you are capable. In other words, you will start loving fully.
Let’s try another one. Suppose you think you are particularly unattractive. This is a tougher one to check out, but certainly not impossible. If you ask someone if you are unappealing, likely you will not get an honest answer. And if you tell someone to answer you honestly, you are putting that person in an uncomfortable position. But what you can do is tell whomever you are asking that you are on a quest to look the best you can. Tell her that you are looking for suggestions of how to improve your ‘curb appeal,’ add that you know that everyone can improve. Ask for what suggestions she has. Presented this way, you will surely get ideas.
Another cognitive behavioral technique is Reframing. Reframing goes like this. There are numerous ways to look at any situation. And how you look at a situation will determine both what you do and how you feel about it.
Let’s consider an example. Supposed you are a guy who has gone with a woman for years. You are convinced that the two of you make a great pair and you believe you will end up together. Then, one day she cheats on you, only to be followed up by a blatantly unsubtle Dear John letter. You are crushed. You feel your life is over. If she doesn’t want you, you will never be happy.
But let’s consider another way of looking at this. If this woman you loved so much cheated on you when you were dating, what’s the liklihood that she would do so if you married? And if she cheats on you when you are married, how much will that destroy you? Maybe it’s better that you know about her now, before you committed to forever. Maybe finding out about her cheating now has saved you. Wow, maybe you just saved yourself! What a different way of looking at this.
This is reframing, looking at a situation from a completely different point of view. And a point of view that highlights the positives.
Building your repertoire with more cognitive behavioral techniques gives you more ammunition to fight. And more ammunition means a better chance of wining.