Going bananas over cognitive reframing

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. -Proverbs 23:7


cognitive therapy
n.

A form of psychotherapy using imagery, self-instruction, and related techniques to alter distorted attitudes and perceptions.

Cognitive reframing is a type of cognitive therapy where the basic premise is this: as you think about yourself, so you are. So the question basically is this: can you rethink how you view your world, and particularly the stressors or other events in your life so that you can handle them?

First the theological question. How does this jive with a biblical view of original sin? The problem with most psychological theories is that they begin with the false premise that man is either inherently good or morally neutral. This is why psychotherapy methods based on the works of Jung or Freud are inherently suspiscious, if not flawed from the start. Neither of these jive with a biblical view of human nature.

Cognitive reframing, however, works not with underlying questions or good and evil, but with the question of behavior. When certain events occur in your life, it has a physiological and psychological effect upon you. The high from a great run. The low from getting fired. A family meal. A friend or family member dying, or even simply moving away. Sex. All of these and more clearly have both mental and physical aspects to them.

That really is at the foundation of understanding many aspects of depression. Depression is a mental illness that has physical manifestations. Furthermore, one suffering from depression can have “trigger” events that will send them into a mental and physical tailspin. Stress. Family. Work. A combination. Particular parts of work or family life. You get the idea.

The premise behind cognitive reframing is how we view these events mentally will shape our mental outlook as well as our physical outlook to things. No, this is not some Zig Zigler type motivational nonsense (you may see Little Miss Sunshine for a great parody on that). What cognitive reframing teaches us is that we can change our mental outlook on things, just as a good counselor or psychologist can.

My counselor tells me that they could raise my body temperature by several degrees just by talking to me about heat in great detail. If this is true, is it so hard to believe that we can reframe how we look at things?

For me, we’re talking about stress. Stress triggers a mental and physical overload, so that I cannot function. I may know at some level that I’ll be fine, I’ll handle it, and that there is a future. But my mind and my body is telling me otherwise. My brain gets foggy. I can’t think. I can hardly move or listen. In really bad cases, it probably isn’t safe for me to drive.

But what if I can think of these trigger events differently? What if instead of looking at them as “stressful” I look at them as “pickles” or “opportunities” or “bananas”? Crazy? Maybe. But try it. Consistenly try it. It works.

Think through the events that drag you down, that make you crazy, that turn you into that zomebie or down that deep, dark hole. Come up with a word for those events that are absurd. Take the fear out of them, and with it, you will find that over time, events that terrified you or filled you with dread will come back to the realm of normalcy, or at least a whole lot closer.

Here is one link to cognitive reframing I found interesting. There are others I’m sure.

-DMR

One thought on “Going bananas over cognitive reframing”

  1. My husband is very helpful to me when I need a more realistic, less distorted view of events or actions. Strangely (to me), even in situations where I know my view gets skewed easily, I still cannot often come up with a different, more realistic, less devastating explanation or thought pattern. Perhaps it gets easier with more practice?

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