Own Today By Coping,  Own Today By Feeling Safe,  Own Today By Learning

Reducing “Negative” Thoughts by Practicing the CBT Triangle

This year, a couple of my patients told me that one coping skill that I taught them that was genuinely helpful was practicing the CBT triangle.

If you have no idea what the CBT triangle is, that is totally okay! CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a therapy theory that is often used today to help people reframe their troubling thoughts to create new thoughts that are more empowering and inspiring. CBT has been used to help those struggling with addiction, self-harm, anger, depression, anxiety, the list goes on!

CBT assumes that every person’s behaviors are stemming from an initial thought. That thought leads to specific feelings, and those feelings lead to specific behaviors. Then, those behaviors loop back to creating (or recreating) thoughts. It’s a cycle!

CBT wants you to challenge your troubling thoughts, so that you can own today, and form healthy behaviors and habits. To help you own today and every day moving forward, I thought I would teach you what I have taught my patients. I created a worksheet to do so! You can find a blank worksheet on my resources page!

The first thing you want to do when you use the sheet is to note the date, time, and cue (or trigger) for you using this coping skill. By noting the date, time, and cue, you may be able to notice patterns of your thoughts and behaviors coming up at certain times in your life.

CBT focuses on being mindful. To be mindful, we will go step by step to acknowlege the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we are experiencing.

  • It’s important to notice the current thought you are having. For your first step, write out the thought that is troubling you.
  • Second, write down the current feelings you are having. Are you happy, sad, angry? It’s okay to write down multiple feelings; we are human and experience a whole range of emotions all the time!
  • Third, write down the current behaviors or urges that you have. Are you (or do you want to) self-harm? Are you punching something or someone? Are you crying? Are you isolating yourself?
  • Fourth, take a moment to pause, breathe, and think about all of these experiences. When you are ready, create a new, reframed thought. Create a thought that takes on a different, more positive perspective.
  • Fifth, acknowledge the new feeling(s) that stem from this new, less troubling thought. Write them down.
  • Sixth, write down your new behaviors. Are you smiling? Laughing? Socializing?

I created this example, because I often feel absolutely awful about myself when I perceive myself as not being productive, or more specifically not finishing my homework over the weekend. When I reframe my thoughts, I feel much more relaxed, much more me. When I don’t reframe my thoughts, I end up in a cycle of destroying myself, spinning out of control, and it takes me awhile to get back to myself.

Please note that there is no right or wrong way to complete this sheet. Heck, you do not even need this sheet! Most of my patients do this CBT exercise in their heads, without writing it down. As long as you are challenging your troubling thoughts to create a healthier you, then I am happy.

Many resources created for you were inspired by handouts from Therapist Aid. The resources available on Therapist Aid or We Can Own Today do not replace therapy. Professionals who use the tools available on this website should not practice outside of their own areas of competency. These tools are intended to supplement treatment, and are not a replacement for appropriate training. Additionally, this website/blog does not provide medical advice. The content –  including but not limited to text, graphics, images, and other material –  that is contained on this website/blog is for informational, educational, and entertainment purposes only.

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