Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is based on the idea that anxiety and depression are caused by incorrect thinking and the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves. Humans are not very good at interpreting situations in a positive way. Our brains are quick to impose some kind of meaning on events that leave us feeling bad. The first half of this book is about how CBT works. When we have irrational or negative beliefs, we start to tell ourselves stories that make us feel unhappy and anxious. And it becomes easy to fall into the trap of using the same thinking errors over and over again. If you see the world as a hopeless place that offers you nothing but sorrow, your view of everything gets darker and you withdraw from situations that could make you feel better.
The way we see the world affects our behavior. When we view the world through a distorted lens, we don't adapt well to our environment or to life's challenges. If you have anxiety, the stories you tell yourself about life might make you reluctant to go outside and find experiences that are better. But with the right techniques, you can discover why your thinking patterns make you feel bad. You can then choose to change.
From the second half of this book, you are going to discover how to transform your thinking and overhaul your relationships. More than thirty years of science tell us that cognitive behavior therapy works. It is a well-tested collection of practical techniques for managing moods and modifying undesirable behaviors through self-awareness and critical analysis. CBT illuminates the links between one's thoughts and behaviors, then uses those connections to develop concrete plans for self-improvement.
CBT is not simply about treating mental illness. It is an approach almost anyone can use for promoting greater emotional health and improving one's quality of life. Some of these issues might fall under the rubric of mental health, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or depression. Others might be considered everyday stressors, such as conflicts at work or the loss of a loved one. Others might be considered medical issues, such as chronic pain, insomnia, or weight management. CBT isn't easy, but every area of your life will change for the better if you give it a chance to work.