Everyday CBT Skills
“You are as happy as you make up your mind to be.” Supposedly this was said by Abraham Lincoln. Whoever said it first, I often talk about this with my patients.
While we can not control most of the situations and experiences that we encounter, we can try to control how we think about them and how we react to them. Our thoughts and our behaviors have strong effects on our emotions. Think about dealing with masses of people during your morning commute. That is something we’ve all had to deal with and can be frustrating. The trains are running late or the cars on the road are in gridlock. You can curse in your head or honk your horn, but it won’t make the trains or cars go any faster. In fact, usually these behaviors only serve to make us feel more frustrated, impatient, and angry. You can think, “I’m going to be late” or “Why won’t these people hurry up?” but that also doesn’t solve anything and adds to your frustration. Instead, try changing your thoughts or your behaviors, or both. Try taking a deep breath and reminding yourself that even though you might be late, if you can’t do anything to change the train schedule or traffic, what is the point in becoming angry and raising your blood pressure? These are every day techniques from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
These skills can be helpful when you find yourself angry, sad, or even anxious. Give it a try or encourage your teen to give it a try when they are feeling frustrated or worried about something.