A simple practical exercise that you can apply in your life to modify problematic beliefs.
Often there are many events that in our day to day create anxiety, intense suffering that makes us take a phobia of certain words, facts, or people, and we do not find the reason why it is being generated.
That is why I bring you a practical exercise with which you will be able to address those limiting ideas linked to anxiety.
The cognitive table
I do not know if you know it, but our ideas have different aspects very marked by uncertainty (how much we believe it) and on the other hand, emotional intensity (how we feel it). I would like to classify the ideas in three categories that I show you below and that will help us to do this exercise better. These are:
An opinion makes us feel relatively safe, but unfortunately this is temporary as it can be easily changed. For example, we can think that a shirt fits us well, but if three friends tell us that it is not our style, we will surely forget this opinion. So if we look at this is the nature of most opinions, we will find that they easily vanish and are usually based on a few references that we look at at any given time.
In second place we have beliefs, they are formed when a base begins to develop on a much larger idea, which is what we will later call the legs of the table of ideas. In addition, we will have a strong emotion about that idea, which will make us feel totally sure of it. In some cases this can be negative, since people with strong beliefs are closed to new information and to get them to change their opinion it will be necessary to interrupt their pattern and get them to question it.
And finally we have the conviction; This is superior to belief, it overshadows it, because it brings with it a great emotional intensity that is linked to an idea. If we look at it, when we are sure of something (having a conviction) and they deny us that idea, we will feel anger and uneasiness and we will not be for the trouble of questioning our references, so many times, unfortunately, they become an obsession.
As we can see, the problem occurs when we carry out convictions based on ideas that support it and make it a strong position. That is why I would like to give you a very simple exercise that will help you to address this blindness we have reached.
How to do the exercise?
The cognitive table is a very practical exercise, in the following drawing I show you:
As you can see, in the table above we will place the conviction ; for example, the idea that we are going to fail in the delivery of a university project, and below we will write the ideas that support this conviction that is generating anxiety. In this example I have chosen four ideas, but your table can be very modern and have five leg-ideas, or it can be smaller and have three. I’d love for you to customize the exercise.
So, the ideas that emerge are:
Idea 1: I don’t know what will happen.
Idea 2: lack of confidence.
Idea 3: if I don’t turn in this job on time, I won’t graduate and lose a job opportunity.
Idea 4: I have chosen the wrong topic.
Well, once you have put it, I would like you to take an individual analysis of each one in order to understand its implications. That is why I am going to show you how to do it with the first idea, so that you can apply it with each one.
You are going to take a notebook (I suggest you use it from now on for practical exercises of this type) and in it you are going to write five columns with headings in column order that will be: idea, thought, emotion, behavior and alternative thinking.
As you can see, the first four columns are very easy to identify, but the fifth is the most complex, because we have to put an alternative thought that is, as it were, a re-explanation of the idea that supports that negative conviction. Therefore, we must look for a thought (I like to call it “lever”) that will make you relax when you see it from this angle; In this last column it is important that we try to make the explanation of the problem sensible and that we do it by understanding it.
Apply this exercise on the thoughts or ideas that cause you discomfort, so that you can face them in a different way. Devote your time and learn to manage these problems from another perspective. Create your table of ideas and restructure your anxieties so that you can solve them.
Anxiety problems? Do I help you
If you want to reduce your anxiety and boost your emotional well-being with the professional support of a psychologist, do not hesitate to contact me. We can start the sessions without leaving home and with a price appropriate to the times.
My name is Javier Ares, I am a General Health Psychologist and one of my specialties is the treatment of anxiety. With my help you will be able to solve the complications arising from the beliefs that you have been generating and causing you stress.
If it’s okay with you, we can start working on you, do not hesitate to contact me through this page.