[Image courtesy of Pawel Loj at Flickr Creative Commons]
My friend F, who’s almost completed a course in counselling, sent me a couple of her recent essays to read. A train journey to London was the perfect opportunity to get in touch with my inner self.
One essay was on Freudian psychoanalysis, which has never really appealed to me. I think it’s too intent on raking over the past, and can keep you so focused on the problem, you can’t see a solution.
Also, there’s really only so much you can blame your parents for; somebody once told me that if anything goes wrong over the age of 25 it’s on you, not them. Ouch.
The second essay intrigued me, delving into the fascinating world of CBT.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy aims to change the way you think about yourself, other people and the world in general. It’s the old idea that nothing is bad, but thinking makes it so. So it’s not the event in itself that’s negative, but your reaction to it – and when you react, you have a choice.
As a self-help addict (a paradox in itself, I think you’ll agree) I was hooked. So as my train sped towards King’s Cross, I went online and found a book on Amazon called Change Your Thinking with CBT.
It had rave reviews, including several that said it changed their entire way of thinking in just a couple of days.
Praise indeed. But did the book – and the therapy – live up to the expectations?
I have to say that, much to my surprise, it did.
There’s nothing in there that we don’t all know already, but sometimes, the obvious isn’t obvious until it’s pointed out by somebody else. Almost every page had a light-bulb moment for me, and it helped me think differently about common frustrations and niggles.
By simply reframing how you perceive the things that happen around you, you can defuse situations and take power away from negative thoughts. And not just in your personal life, but in business too.
It’s easy to forget when you’re pushing out a marketing campaign, or tweeting, or writing a post on LinkedIn that you’re one person talking to a another person. And that you both fall into some of the cognitive traps highlighted in my wonder book.
So what are they? Here are some of my favourites, together with how they affect the way we interact with colleagues, prospects, clients and readers. And everybody else.
The last one is my favourite: comparing. It’s one that we all do personally or professionally virtually every day. There’s always somebody slimmer, richer, funnier or faster than you. And there’s always a company that has nicer offices, a better website, cleverer adverts or a slicker tagline than yours.
And you know what they say: compare and despair.
CBT may not change your life in two days, but it may just change how you think about yourself and your audience – and how you interact with them.
At least I think so.
Unless I’m overgeneralising again.