When I was around the age of my kids, who are now in elementary school, I started getting nervous in new situations. We were a family that was on the go to events, camping, church, parks, and backyard cookouts. It was wonderful. So, why the jitters? Maybe it was the newness of everything around that age. Maybe it was my curiosity to understand all the activity and action. Maybe that is when I started too much thinking about what I was thinking.
Even now, as an adult with many responsibilities, the jitters show up from time to time. Like you, I have many places to be, things to do, and my husband and littles to enjoy. And then, for me, some of the same nervous thoughts start jumping around in my brain. Negative thoughts like “I might not be able to juggle all of this” happen. Worried thoughts like “what if this doesn’t work out” happen.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) categorizes these negative thoughts as “cognitive distortions,” or in simpler terms stinkin’ thinkin’.
When we have negative thoughts, they lead to us feeling sadness, anger, shame, and loneliness. Negative thoughts and moods lead to us behaving in ways that might not be the most helpful. For example, a negative thought about not being good enough might lead to avoiding new activities.
CBT is a well-rounded therapy to help us feel better. The first portion of CBT includes building a relationship with your counselor and discovering your strengths. Then, you work together to uncover a good understanding of how your thoughts and behaviors are impacting your mood. This opens the space for learning CBT skills. These skills focus on solutions to challenge negative thinking patterns and behaviors, which improve your mood.
Small changes to my thoughts and behaviors when I was young improved how I was feeling in social situations. I wiggled my toes in my shoes to cue myself to ask questions of those around me instead of letting worrisome questions linger in my mind. Challenging those thoughts with the help of others worked wonders on mood. Cognitive Behavior Therapy does the same. It teaches problem-focused skills that are simple and direct. Keep in mind, as a little kid or as an adult, finding a supportive clinician is a problem-focused step you can take to learn new skills.