A lot of slimmers are turning to Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and similar types of talking therapies as a way of helping them understand why they feel a certain way about the way they look.
CBT is used to treat such a wide range of mental health problems – phobias, panic attacks, depression and eating disorders to name a few. In fact we can use CBT for many of our thoughts in our every day life.
‘So what is CBT?’ I hear you ask
In a nutshell, CBT works on the principles that problems we have in our lives aren’t caused by situations or events but by how our thoughts interpret these situations to suit ourselves. This will then have a lead on effect with our feelings (emotions) and behaviour (actions).
So look at this model below:
So explaining this model in more detail. Lets pretend your boss emails you and tells you that he/she wants a meeting with you. What’s your instant reaction?
‘oh no what have I done?’
A lot of us will instantly go to the oh no what have I done? Reaction and will wonder why the boss wants a meeting. In fact a lot of us may go into emotional ‘panic’ mode and start imagining scenarios in our heads about how the meeting is going to go, or what is going to be said. You might find that it occupies your mind, you start to feel stressed, anxious, nervous even.
Then as a result of those emotions you may find that you withdraw at work, become quiet, maybe a bit moody and all because you received an email saying your boss would like a meeting. This is because of your interpretation but to another individual their interpretation could be something entirely different.
The aim of CBT is to help you notice your instant reaction to thoughts so, instead of dwelling on these thoughts and turning them into these nightmare scenarios, we can look at the thoughts in a more balanced approach so we won’t go into a negative thinking spiral.
Do you find yourself doing the following?
Feeling guilty about something therefore you must be guilty! – this is called emotional reasoning
Jumping to conclusions – if I go out tonight then everyone is going to think I look awful and fat and there fore I’ll feel worse
All or nothing thinking – ive not stuck to my diet today so I may as well carry on eating what I want and start again tomorrow
Over generalising – everything bad always happens to me, I never stick to any diet
Labelling – I’m a failure, what’s the point, I’m useless
Mental filtering – you notice your flaws more than the great things about yourself.
These statements are very common with our thinking. Especially when it comes to our bodies, weight issues etc. After all you have thought them so they must be true right?
Nope not always!
Quite often we censor our thoughts to give them the interpretation that we want. So if you aren't in a great place when it comes to the way you look, you are hardly going to go out and feel positive about the way you look are you?
The first step towards changing the way you feel about your body is to notice those common thoughts that you have about yourself. If you wake up everyday and groan and moan when you look in the mirror, you are hardly going to show a confident image to the world are you? Every day, find at least 1 thing about your body or looks that you are happy with. Do you like your hair? your teeth for example?
have you noticed that whilst you are losing weight, your tummy is getting flatter? start to appreciate these changes within and the outside will start to follow.
When it comes to fixing your thinking, it is easier said than done but abit like brushing our teeth every day, it can soon become a habit that you will come to appreciate.
Alleyne is a qualified weight management counsellor, author and columnist.
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