Turn negative into positive.
Cognitive Restructuring is a useful tool for understanding what lies behind stressful and unhappy feelings and moods, and for reframing the unnecessary negative thinking that we can all engage in from time to time. Particularly when used with positive thinking, Cognitive Restructuring can help us turn these moods around, so that we can approach situations in a positive frame of mind.
This is obviously important, because not only are negative moods unpleasant, they can also reduce the quality of our performance, and undermine our relationships with other people.
The key idea behind Cognitive Restructuring is that our moods are driven by what we tell ourselves, based on our interpretation of things that are going on around us. Cognitive Restructuring is a useful way of evaluating how rational and valid these interpretations are. Where we find that we're being unnecessarily negative in the way that we're looking at things, then this naturally changes the way we think about situations, thereby changing our moods.
Cognitive Restructuring is similar to the Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking and Positive Thinking tool, which is useful for dealing with spontaneous or simple negative thinking. By contrast, Cognitive Restructuring is particularly helpful where issues are more difficult, and where they warrant more careful, considered examination.
Use the Cognitive Restructuring tool when you realise that you're in an unhappy mood, and you want to get rid of it.
The Cognitive Restructuring tool is based on the approach to Cognitive Therapy described elegantly and simply by Drs Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky in their book "Mind Over Mood," which is well worth reading for a deeper understanding of this material.
Cognitive Therapy is now one of the main techniques used to manage anxiety and depression, among others. Cognitive Restructuring is a stripped down version of this approach, focused on managing “normal” negative thinking.
Follow these steps to use Cognitive Restructuring when you are in an unhappy mood:
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