Cognitive Therapy Self-Help

by Mark Ivar Myhre on August 16, 2008

Cognitive therapy represents one method you can use to help yourself become a better person.  Basically, it involves greater conscious awareness of your thought process so you can modify it, as a way to feel better.

1. One assumption of cognitive therapy: people commonly think distorted, faulty, or inaccurate thoughts.  I believe everyone does this to one degree or another.  For example:

  • Viewing events as either good or bad – never both. And never as shades of gray.
  • Magnifying insignificant events to artificially inflated importance.
  • Taking an unpleasant current event and applying it to all other areas of your life or to all future events.

The first step to cognitive therapy self-help involves becoming consciously aware – or more consciously aware – of these types of thoughts.

2. The second assumption of cognitive therapy: your thoughts create your feelings and your behavior. If you can change your thoughts, then you can improve your feelings and modify your behavior.

I see it differently.  I believe thoughts and feelings are both raw materials.  As such, it would be impossible for thoughts alone to create feelings because one raw material cannot create another raw material.

I experience a constant flow of both thoughts and feelings bubbling up inside me.  I call it the wellspring of emotion. From this wellspring of emotion comes our so-called ‘stream of thought’.  And also our stream of feeling.

Due to the twists of chauvinism, thoughts have been exalted while feelings have been devalued – even despised – as an unnecessary evil.  We’ve become so good at shutting down our feelings that we now can scarcely believe a constant stream of feelings even exists!

In this paradigm of devalued feelings, it’s no wonder so many people experience so much emotional pain.  I cover this topic in much greater detail in the free e-book on emotional healing.

Working with thoughts alone can produce desirable results.  However, considering and applying the following two factors can enhance your self-help efforts:

  • I would suggest the feelings you feel are not a product of your thoughts alone, but instead they come from ‘something more’.

The individual feelings you feel – as you dip into your flow of raw material – are a product of your self esteem. Your self esteem acts as a filter to block certain feelings and allow other ones through.

Self esteem is the evaluation you make of yourself. Your thoughts obviously play a major role in your self esteem.  Hence the assumption that thoughts create feelings.

But it’s not that simple. For a complete understanding of self-esteem – what it is, where it comes from, why it is so important, and most importantly – how to build it – go to

The main stumbling block to cognitive therapy lies with the underlying resistances many people have towards making changes.

These resistances often go unrecognized, unacknowledged, and hidden from view.  For good reason: they’re usually ugly to look at, and hard to admit!

For example, we may simply prefer to feel sorry for ourselves rather than improve our lot in life.  Or we may wish to avoid more responsibility.  Or we want to punish someone.  Or maybe we prefer to manipulate others in some way.  I cover these and other resistances (and what to do about them!) in the e-book on creating your own reality.

Another resistance may be a reluctance or difficulty in letting go of the past:

“I’ve been wronged and I just can’t seem to let go of what happened.”

And if I improve myself – through cognitive therapy self-help or any other way – then it might negate what happened to me.

And no  matter what I say to the contrary, I don’t really want to let go of that past.  I’m using it.  I’m getting some sort of ‘hit’ by keeping it alive.  It’s valuable to me. I can’t let that go.   Therefore, cognitive therapy appears not to work; if I even try it at all.

A final resistance I’ll mention is simply fear of change itself. Change scares people.  No matter how much we want it, we also resist it.  Because every change involves chaos.

You must experience at least a little bit of chaos for any type of change.  The bigger the change – the greater the chaos.

When you go through chaos, you temporarily lose touch with your anchors.  When you emerge from chaos, you take back those anchors.  Depending on the degree of change, some of those anchors will be new while some of the old ones will be gone.

For example, it’s possible to let go of the anchors to pity as you create new anchors to love.

As you work on your cognitive therapy, keep in mind the short-term nature of chaos.  It’s temporary.

And if you forgive yourself first, you’ll find change comes easier and more elegantly. You can find out more about forgiveness by going to

You can make positive changes in your life with cognitive therapy – and you can do it on a ‘self-help’ basis.  Because the more you examine your thoughts and feelings the better off you’ll be.

Any time you question yourself – good things can happen!

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