Let’s talk about CBT. No, really.

Okay, guys. Real talk for a minute here.

I don’t fucking understand CBT. Like, I straight up, just do not get it. It frustrates me, it feels like something I already do naturally and on my on a continuous, daily basis, and I don’t see how it could ever help me and my very large, very serious problems.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try, or I don’t want to give it a chance. I do.

When it comes to therapy, and life in general, I feel like I’ve pretty much become the queen of failure.

EMDR? Tried it. Multiple times. My brain has put up seemingly insurmountable barriers every time, and it just does not go well. I’m still determined to make it work, but my therapist wants to wait a while before trying again.
Working on attachment? Well…lets just say…I’m still working on it. And still massively messed up in that area.
Internal script or dialogue or whatever? Yeah, it still tells me I’m a massive fuck up and loser and everything terrible. So, that’s not great either.

I’ve been with my therapist for over 6 years now, and she’s honestly a miracle worker for putting up with me and keeping me alive this long. We’ve had a lot of tension over the past few weeks, and a good amount of that is probably on me.

While I’m not trying to, I’ve been unintentionally putting up barriers and being resistive and dismissive to the majority of the things she’s suggested of tried with me. Again, it’s very unintentional, and I’m not trying to be that way, but I can recognize that it is happening. And that would make anyone frustrated, I’m sure.

So, back to my point.


How the FUCK do I get good at it, when I feel like I live my life in an already constant state of anxiety produced thought adjustment?

That person did a thing weirdly. They must hate me. Shit, I fucked something up. (No, no, brain. It probably has nothing to do with you, chill the fuck out.)

Stuff like that goes through my head on repeat. It’s essentially become survival mode for me, catastrophizing everything and then trying to rationalize it and convince myself it isn’t really like that. It’s like the emergency response system for my brain.

While I seem to do this to a certain degree naturally, when it comes to therapy, and when she asks me to “challenge my thoughts”, I do become frustrated, and my immediate response is usually “I don’t know”, even though I often do have an answer that’s probably acceptable.

I’ve said I’m going to stop with the initial and immediate response of “I don’t know”, and I plan to. But then what? What happens next?

Okay, so I want to die, I “challenge the thought” or whatever…but seriously, then what? I don’t feel better, It feels like I’m lying to myself, and then I feel like I’m doing it wrong.

And, on top of that, to make it even more complicated, not every thought is supposed to be challenged! It’s not an all or nothing approach. Apparently, the ones that are valid or make sense or whatever, you’re supposed to leave alone. The only problem with that is, how the heck do I know the difference?!

If I live my life in a CONSTANT state of minimizing and trying to reason with myself in this way, how am I now supposed to then ascertain the thoughts that I DON’T challenge?

See, this is where my problem is. I’m overthinking and overcomplicating something that I’m relatively sure is supposed to be a simple process. Classic me.

Guys, PLEASE help me with this. Flood me with comments, ideas, suggestions, books, shows, movies…anything to help me figure this out. I want to feel better, I want therapy to go better…

I want to stop being how I am. It hurts that I’m doing this shitty of a job at something that I don’t think is supposed to be very difficult. And it hurts that I’m fucking up my therapy relationship because of it, when I have such a genuine desire to do better.

So, hit me with it. All of it. Help me fixed my fucked up brain. Maybe you know something that I don’t. At this point, I’ll do anything and try anything to do better.

18 thoughts on “Let’s talk about CBT. No, really.”

      1. Meditation helped me heal, helped me do the things my therapist instructed

        It was the safe place I needed to feel secure and enough to risk

  1. Has your therapist given you thought record forms to try out? There’s one here: https://www.mcgill.ca/counselling/files/counselling/thought_record_sheet_0.pdf

    Part of the thought record process is coming up with objective evidence for and against the thought. When thoughts trigger strong emotions, the amygdala gets itself all worked up and treats those thoughts as a threat. The process of coming up with evidence gets the more rational part of the brain to come back online. In terms of what thoughts to challenge, the intensity of emotion associated with the thoughts is a key deciding factor.

    CBT identifies three levels of thought. The most front of mind is automatic thoughts, which pop into our heads when something happens (e.g. that person did something weird, so they must hate me). Thought records are about challenging those automatic thoughts.

    Feeding into those are underlying assumptions, which tend to take the form of if… then… (e.g. If I don’t do things right, people will hate me).

    Those underlying assumptions arise from core beliefs, which are absolute beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world (e.g. I’m unlovable, I’m a terrible person). This article has some good stuff on core beliefs: https://positivepsychology.com/core-beliefs-worksheets/

    It sounds like your therapist is working at the automatic thoughts, whereas it sounds like it’s core beliefs that really need to be addressed.

    1. Thank you so much, that makes more sense.
      We’ve done thought logs in the past, but not in years. Maybe I’ll try them again just to have a more tactile grasp of it.
      She definitely knows that we need to address the core beliefs, but I think she said that if I’m having this much trouble with the automatic thoughts part of it, it won’t work for the harder stuff, so we’re trying to tackle that first. She knows my core beliefs are deeeeeeply embedded.
      It seems like maybe I have a basic grasp of the automatic, but anything deeper than that I struggle with, maybe? I can’t get past the underlaying assumptions part, I think. I tend to live in the “if, then”.
      It makes sense how you put it, though, so I appreciate that.
      I just want to start doing better, and it’s frustrating that I’m so stuck on this.

      1. I think that’s a common place to be stuck. I get really sucked into mind reading, and I haven’t been able to stop myself from doing it, but by repeatedly naming it when it happens, I’ve at least been able to decrease the amount of time I spend sucked in. It’s definitely a baby steps kind of thing.

      2. Ugh, if only mind reading was an actually useful skill. I spend a lot of time there. Baby steps, for sure. Hey, if I can spend even a little bit less time there, I’ll be grateful.

  2. I’ve just started something that looks a lot like this and I am also failing… It’s so bad that I haven’t done my exercises in over a week and I feel terrible about that. As I feel I’m sabotaging myself.

    But I get it. It’s so hard to *know* which thought is valid and which is not. How do you *know* which thoughts you need to deal with and what after you’ve done that? Should you feel relaxed, excited, what? So I’m here as well, though I’m just starting… 😊
    I’ll follow your journey and maybe we can figure it out together. As I know looking at things with a friend can often help more than just looking at it by yourself!

    Wishing you a wonderful Easter my dear friend 🐰🐣🐇

    1. Self sabotage definitely goes along with it, I’m pretty great at that myself.
      It is quite difficult to pick and choose which thoughts are valid…so, so frustrating.

      I’m glad you’re on this journey too, it definitely is easier navigating with a friend. Hopefully we’re able to figure this thing out, we both deserve the best out of life that we can get!!

      1. Ah so it’s not uncommon what is happening to me at the moment. Soon, I’ll just need to sit down, grab my exercise papers and notebook and do something useful for my next therapy session. 😊

        Yes, let’s make this journey together, we can win. It won’t be easy, but things that are worthwhile are often harder ones. 😊 We got this! 💪🏼

  3. One thing that seemed to start helping me is to “Postpone” a thought or reaction. Another thing was to try and pick apart my spiraling thoughts. “Is this really bad”. “Did this turn out the way I thought it would?” Some of this works for me…some doesn’t. The postponement tool seems to have the best “batting average” for me.

  4. Postponement has been a great tool for me recently. Not always effective but it has a good batting average. Also verifying that what the actual outcome versus what I thought would happen is. And 99% of the time, my expected outcome was way off. The trick is to pay attention to the win column.

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