Cognitive Therapy is based on the fact that what we think affects our mood. Thinking negative thoughts can lead to depression, anxiety, guilt, and other unnecessary and uncomfortable emotions such as frustration and embarrassment.
Many psychologists have designed elaborate programs of identifying the type of negative thought, looking up a specific anecdote thought, and writing out the new thought. These methods can be cumbersome enough to cause someone to give up on trying to change their thoughts.
When people try to change their negative thinking, the most common mistake is to think the most positive thing they can imagine. Positive thinking, in and of itself, is often useless, even frustrating. WHY? Because the most positive thought typically isn’t true, so it doesn’t help. When it doesn’t work it can cause frustration. So for instance, someone is worried about getting laid-off and then they think “I’m sure I won’t get laid off.” That won’t help them feel better because there is no guarantee that any job is completely safe.
The solution…A method of cognitive therapy that I developed is both simple and effective. When having negative thoughts, think of something Better But Believable. I like to call these B3s. So in the case of the worried employee this is just one example of a string of thoughts that are better but believable: “Worrying won’t help me to keep my job and if I am laid off I can collect unemployment and catch up on some personal stuff until I find something else. They probably need me too much to let me go. But if they do, it’s possible I’ll find a job that’s better.”