Cognitive behavioural therapy is proven by research to be an effective treatment for a range of issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety etc.
The cognition is the thought that starts a chain reaction leading to the action or behaviour. So for instance if you the thought is that you are being looked at and judged negatively this triggers a feeling of embarrassment or in some cases shame, and the behaviour is to withdraw, run away or hide yourself. The behaviours may be different from one person to another, for instance one person may react angrily, so the trigger of being looked at sets off a negative thought which then triggers negative action or behaviour of lashing out verbally or even physical.
CBT works with by exploring and uncovering the thoughts or cognitions that arise when you feel you are looked at and an examination of the self-talk and assumptions that surround it Self talk is that voice that we all have going on inside our heads. It can be as simple as ‘now what have I to cook for the dinner today’. When unhelpful negative self-talk is uncovered we can learn to challenge the whether it is true or not. We also work out what negative behaviours accompany these thoughts such as punching someone. Together we explore how to change what you think or what you are telling yourself when you feel you are being looked at. The aim is to make it less extreme and more reasonable. For instance not all ‘looks’ are judgmental. Remember the old saying ‘the cat has leave to look at the queen’. We all look from time to time and the reality is sometimes we judge and sometimes we admire. There is no way to mind read other people and if we can change the thought to a more reasonable or even a positive one, then behaviour will change. So instead of punching someone we can learn to choose our behaviours such as to ignore them or simply to smile.
CBT is a very effective way of empowering yourself. If you have control of your thoughts and of that voice in your head then you can write your own script for your life.
This method can work well with short term solution focused therapy. Although there may be underlying reasons why the negative self-talk developed in the first place you may not be in therapy for a very long time in order to achieve improvement in your life. Negative patterns of behaviour can develop over time and when they are pin pointed and brought into awareness they can be teased out so that you can learn to look out for and manage your triggers.