COGNITIVE behaviour therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic intervention used to help those of us who struggle to think positively or correctly about our place and purpose in life.
As its name suggests, it works on our cognitions and the corresponding effect our cognitions have on our behaviour. “Cognition” relates to, or involves, conscious mental activities like thinking, understanding, learning and remembering. It’s true that we all struggle from time to time in this area. We all think negatively or incorrectly every now and then, at least. But for some of us it’s a daily skirmish.
The principles of CBT focus in on the logic of truth — always coming back to the truth and what we may know, as opposed to the things we could hold in our thinking as guesswork.
Our minds — both fortunately and unfortunately — are both blessed and cursed with the ability to create. Our imaginations are fantastic laboratories for fashioning art, problem solving through innovation, and having fun with life. But they also provide problems for us when we imagine many dark things, all of which seem possible.
We may have imagined our self-concept a certain way, yet until we challenge that concept — and bring it in alignment with the truth — we may not be doing ourselves any favours. There is a biblical principle involved here (2 Corinthians 10:5). In taking the thought “captive,” and bringing it into “obedience” to the truth, we have the ability to reform our thought.
Cognitive behaviour therapy has its purpose in teaching a person to routinely screen their thought content for truth.
Where non-truth, untruth or half-truth are procured in the thinking, the mind is trained to override that thinking, and challenge it with knowable logic.
With such an ability to think we gain mastery over our entire being. It really is true: it’s all in the mind.
The trouble is we may want to validate what we feel, which often works at crossed purposes to what we should think.
Suddenly we are in a tricky situation: wanting to be true to how we feel and wanting to think well. Hence, we have what psychotherapists and psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” Our feelings trouble us and our minds become anxious — literally, we have “a mind, divided.”
Here is the key: with faith, we can overcome our negative or incorrect thinking. We must learn to trust our thoughts of faith — that life will be okay, that we are trying our best, and that our best is good enough. With faith we can listen to what we feel, have the conversation internally, but then let the mind decide to be positive and correct to the truth.
Faith helps us step forward into the present to realise a hopeful future.
What future would we have for ourselves — a bright one, of course.
If we take the positive step in the present, the brighter future awaits.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.