Lately, I have been hearing about cognitive behavioral therapy all over the place. From a close friend, HSPs who’ve emailed me to talk about it, in blog posts, and more. A friend told me in detail about her experience in cognitive therapy sessions, and I was fascinated. It made so much sense, and sounded so helpful for anyone who engages in damaging negative self-talk.
I was hesitant to bring up this topic on the blog because I am not a therapist, psychologist, or a mental health professional. I don’t have any right to talk about this stuff as if I’m an authority. But it sounded so interesting and potentially helpful that I wanted to share it with you. Please view this as a discussion you might have with a friend–not an expert on the subject. I urge you to do more research if you are interested in cognitive therapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a “relatively short-term, focused psychotherapy for a wide range of psychological problems including depression, anxiety, anger, marital conflict, loneliness, panic, fears, substance abuse, and personality problems.” (source: cognitivetherapynyc.com)
Now, we know that high sensitivity is not a psychological problem. I’m not saying that it is. But the techniques in cognitive therapy can be applied to the challenges of being highly sensitive.
Here is a brief summary:
Our feelings are the results of our thought patterns, which are sometimes subconscious. What happens in negative self-talk (and depression) is that our way of thinking becomes distorted. For example: “I made a mistake, therefore I am a complete failure and no good at anything.” This statement is totally flawed and illogical.
So how it works is recognizing these distorted thoughts, identifying why they are wrong, and talking back to them. You learn to identify the types of distorted thoughts and techniques for changing them, as well as guilt, anger, procrastination, perfectionism, need for approval, and more. This is just scratching the surface.
Here’s an example. Imagine you are going to a social event that will be loud and crowded with strangers–an environment that could easily overwhelm you. But you want to go because there is a guy/girl you like that you want to see. Before you leave, you feel anxious and doubt if you should even go at all. When you realize you are having these feelings, you decide to dive into your thoughts and find out why you are feeling this way.
You might have been thinking things like: “I’ve been to events like this in the past and had an awful time; this is going to be the same. I’m too easily overwhelmed; I’m going to freeze up and be antisocial and not talk to anybody.”
Then you begin talking back to yourself: “I may have had bad experiences in the past, but why should I not have a good time tonight? I know I can get overwhelmed, but I can always take a short break by myself or leave if I need to. If I don’t talk to that many people, so what? My goal is to be around one person, not be the life of the party.”
And just like that, you’ve used a logic smackdown on yourself.
So that’s it. My little spiel on cognitive behavioral therapy. Fascinating stuff!