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5 CBT based techniques to help you with confidence

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap us in a vicious cycle.

CBT can help us to break out of this cycle by identifying and challenging negative thoughts, and learning to react to situations in a more positive way. Here are five CBT techniques that can help you to boost your confidence and self-esteem, and approach challenges and decisions in a more positive way:

1. Identify your negative thoughts

The first step is to become aware of the negative thoughts that are holding you back. These might be thoughts such as “I’m not good enough”, “I’ll never be able to do this” or “I always make the wrong decisions”.

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

Once you’ve identified your negative thoughts, it’s time to start challenging them. Ask yourself whether your thoughts are really true, or whether there is another way of looking at the situation. For example, if you’re thinking “I’ll never be able to do this”, ask yourself “What evidence do I have for this?” or “What if I give it a try and it turns out better than I expect?”.

3. Practice positive self-talk

Start to counter your negative thoughts with positive self-talk. This might be something as simple as telling yourself “I can do this” or “I am good enough”. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, take a step back and reframe your thoughts in a more positive light.

4. Set yourself realistic goals

Setting yourself small, achievable goals can help you to start feeling more confident. When you achieve a goal, it will help to reinforce the positive message that you can do things and that you are capable. Start with something small, such as taking a different route to work, and then build up to bigger goals.

5. Take action

The final step is to take action and put your new-found confidence into practice. This might mean saying “no” to something you don’t want to do, or speaking up in a meeting. It’s important to remember that you might not get it right every time, but that’s OK – the important thing is that you’re taking action and making progress.

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Can changing the way you think help you cope with OCD?

It is now well documented that negative thinking habits affect people’s ability to deal with mental challenges. Multiple studies in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy show that OCD symptoms can improve by working on appraisals and adaptive thinking.

However, it is sometimes unclear what is the cause and what’s the effect: does OCD fuel negative thinking? or does negative thinking fuel OCD?

Common belief looks at OCD as some kind of an entity with its own mind. Trying to battle and control this entity is tiring and often fruitless.

One approach Cognitive Behavioral Therapy suggests is to look at OCD from a different angle – by dividing the cognitive process to two: controllable and uncontrollable thoughts.

When dealing with OCD, we can have all kinds of thoughts – some disturbing or annoying. One useful approach is letting these uncontrollable thoughts go by, without trying to control or change them.

There are two parts to this approach though: following these uncontrollable thoughts, we can have additional thoughts – that continue and build upon the negative story and strengthen it. These thoughts are actually something that we can control.

To give an example: I had a disturbing thought about me doing something bad. This thought was uncontrollable. I’d better just let is go and forget all about it.

Immediately after it, pop additional thoughts: maybe I’m a bad person? What if I did something bad? These thoughts seem as a logical progression from the original uncontrollable thought, but they are actually part of the story I’m telling myself.

So how do I avoid getting into the story?

Here we can use another technique. We give the story a name. Let’s name this story – “The story of me thinking disturbing thoughts and getting freaked out about being a bad person”. From now on, when I will have these thoughts, I will ask myself – “Do I want to tell myself the story of me thinking disturbing thoughts and getting freaked out about being a bad person?”

Is the answer yes? then maybe I do actually want to get into this story. But I have to now know that this was my choice. It is not some kind of external or uncontrollable entity that caused me to get into the story. It was me!

Is the answer no? Great, let’s try to not get into this story then. This was just a thought, and while it was disturbing and hard taking it in, I can cope with it.

Obviously, these are just suggestions. There are many techniques. For example, by using our OCD app, we can learn to let go of negative thoughts, and offer alternative, more adaptive thoughts that can come instead and replace the negative thoughts.

The main conclusion? Focus on the controllable, and make your new year helpful and supportive.

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OCD vs. Anxiety: key differences

Mental diagnosis can be difficult, in part because the differences between individuals’ internal experiences can seem quite nuanced. Per community request, here are some of the key differences between OCD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

OCDGeneral Anxiety
Characterized by
compulsive or ritualistic
responses to…
Compulsive, ritualistic
coping mechanisms
are not typical.
neutralize, erase,
replace, or stop…
Characterized by
worrisome attempts to
problem-solve in
multiple areas of life.
unwanted and repetitive
thoughts, images,
and doubts (aka: obsessions)
accompanied by
physical symptoms.
which are often
hypothetical or
unrealistic in nature.
Worries focus on
relatively realistic
negative outcomes.