Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works with thoughts, interpretations, and outlooks – everything relating to the mind. It also works with behaviors, healing the actions we take and the patterns of habit we follow.
With both thoughts and behaviors, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps us through the “act as if” principle, also known as the “fake it ‘til you make it” method, in which you learn how to be happier through practicing the thoughts and behaviors a happier person might have.
Over time we see that we can adjust our thoughts and behaviors to be in service of our true goals and desires. This transfers the power and agency over to us, so that our thoughts and behaviors serve and express our highest nature rather than enslaving us into patterns we did not ever mean to express.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective and fast, and it is especially good for any type of suffering that essentially derives from how we are thinking about things, and how those thoughts give rise to behaviors that don’t serve our interests.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works both sides of the coin. Body and mind are married and you cannot work with one without the other being impacted. Sometimes one seems to be the place where the trouble is, but you can help the other side by treating them as interconnected. When healing from addiction, we work with the thoughts we have, as well as the compulsive behaviors.
Taking positive actions will change your state, as will thinking positive thoughts. Everything is connected, even though they are distinct aspects of our humanity. A state of body, such as being tired or sick, will impact our thoughts. The reverse is also true. Have you ever noticed how if you read about an illness’ symptoms, you may even start to feel under the weather? Medical students famously sometimes think they have the diseases they’re learning about, even to the point of manifesting symptoms, just because of the way that focusing on some information can cause the body to follow along.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is powerful in particular because of the basic practice of simply becoming aware, first of all, of what is even taking place in our thoughts. Before the healing journey, most of us do not even notice our thoughts. It is more than we think we are our thoughts –we identify with them and think that they are our own.
The essential problem with this is that all kinds of toxic and antihuman thoughts arrive in our thought-streams unquestioned. Before mindfulness, we just take them in, allowing them to create our feelings and behavior for us, without even having the chance to say whether we want these thoughts to have so much authority in our lives.
We have all inherited anti-human thoughts from the collective, which actually create great harm to us. Harmful thoughts are such an embedded part of our own experience we may not even notice there is a difference between them and us.
But the difference between us and these harmful thoughts is the all-important entry point for the possibility of healing. In the little gap between “I” and the part in the background who is seeing that there is an “I” at work, is exactly where Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is impactful.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches us to notice which thoughts are running in us and to then decide if we agree with those thoughts, actually. Or whether we might choose to think something differently, and try a different thought.
This is how we discover that the space that our thoughts have been running around in belongs to us, and we have the right and the ability to command that space, and be in charge of it. This applies to the urges that appear right before we take an action.
We can say: “I see you, thought, I see you, urge. You are not me. I do not consent to give this behavioral pattern my energy at this time. I am going to place my focus somewhere else.”
Through encounters like these, we gradually see that negative thoughts and behaviors have nowhere to fester if we do not give them space within us.
This is the beginning of liberation from the tyranny of thoughts and compulsions which seem to appear out of nowhere and cause us great misery. It is the start of choosing reality-generating thoughts and ways of being in the world that make us feel happy, safe, and capable.
Far more than just a popular treatment method, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a critical blow to the deepest causes of our suffering.