Blog Section

Challenging Thoughts and Changing Behavior

 

Man in Car

While listening to the news on my drive home from work awhile back, I heard a story about a road rage incident. A driving student hesitated at a stop sign, and when she turned into a parking lot, the driver behind her followed her, got out of his car, and started behaving aggressively.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I’ll imagine this man was having a really bad day. Maybe he had just had some bad news about the health of a loved one. Maybe he just lost his job. Whatever the reason, being delayed behind a slow driver pushed him over the edge. Thankfully, that incident resolved without major injury to anyone, but that isn’t always the outcome.  

We have all likely experienced frustration while driving. Just this morning, someone suddenly turned left in front of me when I had the green light. We don’t always take time to think about our response to these kinds of frustrating situations. Most of the time, they pass without causing us any major difficulties, but sometimes our response isn’t something we feel good about, and we wish we could have handled things differently.
Cognitive Triangle
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, there is the idea of the “cognitive triangle,” which is the triangle that links our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. This is at the heart of recognizing and changing our behaviors.  

I imagine the driver from the news story pulled up behind the driving student, and when she missed her turn to go, he began to imagine why this driver was holding him up. He may have thought she was a terrible driver, he may have thought she was purposely making him late.  Then, he likely started to feel angry that she was making him late. His anger and frustration built up, leading him to act out.  

This cycle of thoughts, feeling, and behaviors can feed on each other, leading us to behave in ways we may not have intended. If we can find a way to stop the cycle, we can change our behavior and how we feel about difficult situations we may be facing.  

Imagine if this driver had pulled up behind the student, she hesitated and missed opportunities to turn, and he started to think about what a terrible driver she was. What if at that point he had asked himself, “What could another explanation be for this situation?”

Maybe he would have come up with the idea that she was a new driver (which was true), maybe he would have thought she was having a bad day.  There are several possible explanations for hesitating at a stop sign.  If he had taken a few minutes to consider other possibilities, it might have changed how he felt about the situation.  He may have still been frustrated, but he may have also felt some compassion or understanding.  Without feeding his frustration or anger, his behavior certainly would have changed.  He likely would have continued on his way, and would have missed out entirely on the altercation.  

Not all of us have problems with road rage, but most of us have thoughts or behaviors that cause us problems in some way or another. Learning to recognize the cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can help us change our trajectory. At any point in that cycle, we can stop and ask ourselves questions such as:

*What evidence do I have that this is an accurate thought?

*What could be another explanation for this situation?

*What are the advantages or disadvantages of how I am reacting to this experience?

*Am I blaming myself for something that isn’t my fault?

*Am I taking something personally, that actually has nothing to do with me?
Going through questions like these can help us take a step back to reevaluate a situation and to help us change how we think and feel about it, which helps us change our behavior. We don’t have to stick with behaviors we don’t feel good about.  

Every new experience is a new change for learning to do things differently. It’s okay to not be perfect right away, but with practice, we can change to be the kind of person we really want to be!
More

A New and Innovative Way of Treatment

Wasatch Family Therapy Idea

Cindy sat in my office, seeking relief from the intense psychological anguish that she had been experiencing for the several months since having survived a fatal head on collision with an SUV. The driver of the other vehicle was intoxicated, swerved into Cindy’s lane of traffic and impacted her vehicle head on. That driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Since that time, Cindy had been experiencing insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and difficulty functioning – classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

From a neurological stand point, her brain was essentially “stuck” in a primitive survival mechanism known as “fight or flight” – a protective measure that is designed to identify a dangerous situation and put the entire system on the defense at warp speed, all in an effort to ward off any threat to survival. Fight or flight is a mode of defense that operates on a “better safe than sorry” mentality. In Cindy’s case, even though the threat to her safety had ended months ago, her system was still stuck in that defensive posture “just in case” the threat, or anything like unto it, resurfaced. Although Cindy understood on a rational level that the threat had long since passed, her neurology was reluctant to let it’s guard down in the event that there was a mistake and the danger had not really passed.   Scenes from the event were relived again and again in her mind because literally that memory had been loaded into her neurological network in a manner that caused the rewind button to be continuously pushed by anything in her environment that even slightly resembled the near fatal accident – riding in a moving vehicle, the sound of a car’s engine, sirens in the distance, flashing lights, etc….

More

Ask A Therapist: Anger Management Issues?

Lately, I’ve been getting in trouble a lot at school and home. I think I have anger management. I always flip out at people, and I have a bad attitude. I get really stressed sometimes. I wonder if I have anxiety. I have a fear of being ignored or forgotten. Me and my mom get along for the most part, but when we fight, it’s bad. We say rude things to each other that I feel bad about after. I think definitely have an anger problem. I yell at everybody when they upset me. I have mood swings a lot. I have trouble falling asleep, and sometimes, I’m so tired but I still can’t sleep, or I’m hyper. I also have a self-esteem issue. Many people say my ” wild behavior” started when my dad passed away in November 2011. I’ve always had these problems, but I guess they came out more after he died. I have tons of friends, but I can’t talk to them about all these things. I can’t take compliments from anyone. I can be so happy at one moment, but then I constantly think of things until I can cry and cry and cry. I just want to know what’s wrong with me.

A: Having a parent pass away is an incredible loss and I’m not surprised that your behavior changed after your father’s passing. My guess is that you’re acting this way for good reason – you’re feeling a lot of emotions and you don’t have the tools yet to manage them. Please get some professional help. Watch the video below for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

Cialis vs Viagra it is old dispute between two similar medicines which stand by the way almost equally. but here not a task how to decide on a choice and to start using one of them. Viagra vs Cialis much kontsentrivany cialis which is on sale in the form of powder and we use it as required emergency. but nevertheless what harm they neninut especially if the birch costs.

More

Anger Management Series – Part 3

Here are a few more tips for handling anger. As mentioned, process and handle your anger, don’t discount it and push it away.

Relaxation:

  • Try deep breathing exercises.
  • Repeat a phrase to relax your self like ‘take it easy’ or ‘you’re ok’ to calm yourself down.
  • Use imagery and go to your ‘happy or quiet place’
  • Exercise!

Cognitive Restructuring

  • Change the way you think.
  • Be more rational – “It’s the end of the world” can change to “It’s frustrating but understandable. It’s not the end of the world and overreacting never really fixes anything.”
  • Avoid phrases that start or end with never, always, or demand.
  • Logic can defeat your anger.

Problem Solving

  • Not all anger is displaced.
  • Don’t focus on the solution, focus on the process.

Improved Communication

  • Don’t act on your conclusions – they might be wrong. Clarify what’s going on by asking and using a conversation.
  • Listen to what’s going on.
  • Try not to fight back

Use Humor

  • Humor can diffuse rage quickly.

Change the Environment

  • Give yourself a break!
  • Don’t avoid confrontation but don’t put yourself in frustrating situations either.

Use Appropriate Timing for Conversations

  • Typically places like in front of the TV or when people are busy aren’t ideal conversation places.
  • If you have a confrontation situation then try planning a better place to talk where you can both focus on yourself.

Learn Assertiveness Training

  • Take a class on being more assertive rather than confrontational.
  • See a counselor for assertiveness training.

Cialis vs Viagra it is old dispute between two similar medicines which stand by the way almost equally. but here not a task how to decide on a choice and to start using one of them. Viagra vs Cialis much kontsentrivany cialis which is on sale in the form of powder and we use it as required emergency. but nevertheless what harm they neninut especially if the birch costs.

More

Anger Management Series – Part 2

As mentioned in the previous article, it is important to explore your anger and exactly what is happening at that moment. One model of anger presents anger in an ABCDE format.

A – Activating Situation or Event

What is happening? What happened before you got angry and what is happening now?

B – Belief System

What is the self-talk going on in your head at the moment? What are your expectations?

C – Consequence

How do you feel about the event based on your self-talk? What are the feelings you are currently experiencing? What happens to your body when you’re experiencing these feelings? Notice the surface feelings and vulnerable feelings underneath.

D – Dispute

Examine your beliefs and expectations – are some unrealistic and maybe a bit irrational? Do you have to get angry? Is there another way to look at what is happening?

E – Evidence

Notice your evidence to support thoughts and be truthful about it. Be honest with yourself.

In reality when you’re angry is it likely that you’ll really sit and analyze the situation or just react on impulse? Probably act on impulse. Other situations you might be able to sit down and analyze what is happening, but in a confrontational situation it’s a lot harder.

One important thing about anger and learning about anger management is when to take a break and really evaluate your situation. By taking a break and stepping away it will allow you to not only analyze what is happening by using this format but it might save you and someone else from saying something you might regret.

By using this format you can eventually make a decision based on principles or logic rather than acting on those intense emotions.

Cialis vs Viagra it is old dispute between two similar medicines which stand by the way almost equally. but here not a task how to decide on a choice and to start using one of them. Viagra vs Cialis much kontsentrivany cialis which is on sale in the form of powder and we use it as required emergency. but nevertheless what harm they neninut especially if the birch costs.

More

Anger Management Series – Part 1

Many of us struggle with anger and the first thing everyone wants to do when they’re angry is to get rid of it. In all actuality anger is a completely acceptable feeling and not something that we need to run away from or even be ashamed about. Anger has a place and a purpose. When you’re feeling anger – don’t discount it! When you’re feeling angry then listen to it and explore it. Anger is meant to tell us that something is wrong and there is something that we need to take care of. (c) Can Stock Photo” src=”http://www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/angrycouple2-150×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ />

When you’re angry talk it through your mind and ask yourself what is really happening in that exact moment. Explore the root of your anger. What’s happening? What are your immediate thoughts? Are there some boundaries you should be aware of and possibly set? Also pay attention to the vulnerable and untouched emotions underneath. Anger hides our feelings of hurt, fear, worry, or sadness. When you are feeling angry – work though it and don’t shut it down. Explore it. Below are some extra do’s and don’ts of anger.

What not to do:

  1. Have you ever noticed when you get angry but don’t handle it makes you sick? Don’t hold anger in because internalizing can lead to sickness and even depression. Be able to diffuse your anger, not hold it in.
  2. Don’t blame when you’re angry. Blaming leads to defensive behavior, which can get out of hand.

What to do:

  1. Control your tone of voice. This is where many misconceptions of reality happen and things get out of control when they aren’t meant to.
  2. Learn to make compromises between yourself and angry parties. This may diffuse anger pretty quickly.
  3. Develop a sense of humor. Don’t make mountains out of molehills and pick your battles. Some things just aren’t worth fighting for.
  4. Reduce the amount of stress in your life. If you’re stressed out, a lot of your molehills may turn into mountains.

Cialis vs Viagra it is old dispute between two similar medicines which stand by the way almost equally. but here not a task how to decide on a choice and to start using one of them. Viagra vs Cialis much kontsentrivany cialis which is on sale in the form of powder and we use it as required emergency. but nevertheless what harm they neninut especially if the birch costs.

More