Saturday, 14 July 2012

Over thinking my unhelpful thinking styles

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) gets you to look at the thinking behind your behaviours and I am finding this useful as I tackle my depression.

I am becoming more aware of my thinking styles.  The more aware I become of my own thinking, the more I can challenge the unhelpful stuff.

I am very much a thinker, analytical, logical and have a massive case of over thinking and catastrophising to make matters worse.  

Nerdy science bit coming up.

So it appears I am a leftie thinker! 

I use the strategies and thought patterns that come from the left side of the brain.  I am all about the logics, the specifics, the details, I like to plan and organise and list things.  

This kind of thinking has it's obvious advantages, like being well prepared for an interview or problem solving or making informed choices.

Like most things though there is two sides to this story.  Relying solely on this type of thinking has it's disadvantages the main one I notice is that I can think and reason and plan so much that I actually don't take any action.  

I can write to-do lists all day but never actually score anything off as all my time and effort went into the listing stage.  For me this can be very draining, I have actually been over the tasks of the day several thousand times in my head before my feet touch the floor on my way out of bed.  You think about doing your day over and over and over in the same 24hours, it's exhausting.

My therapy is teaching me to branch out, to go over to the dark side or at least the right side of my brain.  I need a little more spontaneity, a bit more get up & go about me.  A bit more 'Just Do It!'  

So I decided to try this on a walk round the park with Bailey.

I do this walk (or a similar walk, everyday) yet I still can feel overwhelmed with all the thoughts and thinking I put into this simple everyday task.  

Instead of debating which way to go?, how long to be out?, what we will do when we finish?, what I will say if I meet someone?, what do I need to take? what will I do if the dog hurts himself? what will I do if they close the park gates early for some reason? What if, what if happens???? - I just started walking.

When I came to a turn I didn't think about it, I just made a split second decision based on how I felt there and then.  It felt great!!  

Sounds simple enough but it was a change from the racing thoughts that usually dominated the walk.

All enthusiastic and remembering Gretchin Ruben's commandment from the Happiness Project and her 'one minute rule' (to never postpone any task that takes less than a minute) I set about DOING things.  In no order, with no plan, just what ever popped up that would take less than a minute - I Just Did it!

I tidied, I made dinner and extra for lunch, I rearranged stuff in the kitchen, I ticked off a few things that had been on my list for ages!

Then forgetting all my CBT stuff about praising achievements and pacing myself I sat down to write this post to share my new found energy from this side of my brain and then it happened.
The switch back, the old habits, the old neural pathways
I went into my usual logical mode (because that is what a task like this requires) I trolled through references on logical thinking and then searched endless images for the 'perfect' picture for the post and hours later I realised how much I was over thinking again.

I was over thinking a post on over thinking!!  Then I found this
Luckily I did because it made me stop myself again and ponder on my learning rather than the post.

My conclusions for my 'right side' experience, well I am learning more about me.  I am testing the waters, gathering my own evidence.  Thats what CBT is all about, challenging the unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and behaviours.  I must be on the right track.

I now know more about my the thoughts behind my behaviours and in trying out new strategies to use in different situations, I will one day be able to use my thoughts to my advantage.   I had great success in switching over to the dark side.  But this is not a 'one side or the other' thing.   It is not right or wrong , black or white.  I need to be able to use the right strategy for the task at hand.

As with all my learning I am at the beginning of a journey, a path that will keep me well and yes I'll have set backs along the way but I proved I can
Just Do It!
Love Mrs Brown xx
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