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As a meditator and avid reader of books about mindfulness, I was searching for a workbook that would help me go a bit further when it comes to questioning my thoughts.
Nowadays anyone can publish a book and that means one must be careful to not just buy anything. I am not a supporter of New Age cults so finding a self-help workbook was a bit challenging because New Agers are truly everyone.
The closest thing I could find to a CBT workbook that is based in science was Thoughts & Feelings: Taking Control of Your Moods & Your Life.
It says right on the cover what it can be used for (from anxiety to depression and problem-solving) so I knew I would get a book packed with helpful advice and great exercises.
I have a thing for heavy books and this one did not disappoint. It’s heavier than your usual reading material and that makes me feel like I invested well – it’s just something my mind has convinced itself of believing.
I started with exercises first because that is always easier than reading everything and then coming back to them. I love that this CBT workbook includes examples so you never feel lost or confused about what the authors want you to do or write.
What helped me the most was writing down my worry thoughts and questioning them. Writing your fears and anxieties on a piece of paper makes them more real and solvable.
It also helps that you are asked to put a number to your fear (with 100 being the highest) and you work towards lowering the number slowly through introspection.
It’s funny how our fears are enormous when only in our heads, but once written down, they lose some of its power and scariness. They are just thoughts and now that you have them on paper, you see how tiny they are.
They are words that your mind is repeating, not actual facts. Some of them may eventually turn out to be real but there is no guarantee.
I find value in using both DBT and CBT.
The first one makes me act on my problems, while the latter sits me down and makes me question every single thought and belief I have.
Together, they are extremely powerful if you are trying to lower your anxiety and depression. I find that as much as therapy is good and pills give you some comfort, you eventually have to face the darkness alone.
Sooner or later you have to get down to the dirt and see what is hiding underneath it.
Another thing I very much enjoyed was that at the beginning you go through a practice of identifying your mind’s way of handling things.
The exercise has you examine different patterns – such as overgeneralization and black and white thinking among others – so that you can better in the future see them in your own mindset.
In a way, it puts you in the chair helping someone else with these problems before it challenges you to do that for yourself as well.
This made me more aware of my own thinking patterns because reading these fictional scenarios gave me the ability to not feel like I am the target but I could relate to them enough to recognize that I am similar to them.
I really enjoyed completing all exercises from this CBT workbook Thoughts & Feelings and I will definitely purchase other workbooks from the same publisher and authors.