Helpful homework from my psychologist 

Dear Diary,
The last time I visited the psychologist a few days ago, I gushed to her about how well the mindfulness exercise she taught me cured my insomnia. It was so effective that my psychiatrist stopped prescribing me sleeping pills because I didn’t need them anymore. 
She was glad too and I saw her taking down notes as I related all this to her. 
Well, I was in for another treat. 
After talking about other stuff, we talked about how cognitive therapy works. Here’s a diagram she drew:

If you can’t see it too clearly, I’ll break it down for ya. 
In every situation we encounter, we have a thought about it. It could be positive, it could be negative. No matter. 
The thought would naturally generate a behaviour, be it good or bad. That same thought would also produce an emotion of some sort. Finally, the thought would also produce a corresponding bodily sensation which is also caused by the emotion you’re feeling as well. 
The interesting thing is that all our thoughts are driven by our beliefs and assumptions which are in turn rooted in our core beliefs. 

To make things a little clearer, let me use the example she gave me. 
Situation: In the MRT, someone you know sees you but walks away quickly. 
Thought: The person just ignored me. That’s rude. 
Behaviour: Avoid the person. 
Emotion: I feel upset. 
Bodily sensation: Feel tense with maybe a slightly faster breathing rate. 
What is fascinating is that the very same situation could produce a very different set of results. Here’s how:
Situation: In the MRT, someone you know sees you but walks away quickly. 
Thought: My friend seems preoccupied with something. I wonder if something happened? An accident or an emergency perhaps, rushing off so quickly like that?
Behaviour: Text my friend to ask what happened. 
Emotion: I feel concerned. 
Bodily sensation: Nothing much. 
So depending on one’s thoughts, one’s behaviour and emotions could change correspondingly. Wow. 
And it seems that because our thoughts are driven by our core beliefs, to change negative thought patterns begins in changing our core beliefs.
This is brilliant!
I can begin to see how and where my depressive episodes came from. We decided that we’d leave that for the next session. 
Meanwhile, I had homework to do before I saw her again next month. 
She drew me the following chart and told me to fill it up to identify what exactly upsets or angers me. And I’ve included one entry, but my tiny handwriting might prove a little hard on the eyes. Haha. 
Anyway, I’m basically supposed to list down my thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and bodily sensation given a situation that upsets me. Oh! I’m supposed to also identify the unhelpful thought pattern involved but that’s a post for another day. 

Till then, I shall endeavour to keep calm and be more self aware. 



3 thoughts on “Helpful homework from my psychologist 

  1. Pingback: Why sometimes visiting the psychiatrist feels exceedingly pointless | diary of a bipolar singaporean girl

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