Interpretation of Events
How an individual interprets a situation is fundamental in determining how they feel, behave, act or ‘react’.
Obviously, this will vary from person to person – primarily this is based upon unique differences such as our genetic make-up, our personalities, our formative (early years) experiences and our ongoing life exercises as we journey through life.
For example, a confident, young person might feel excited at the prospect of taking a year out to travel around the world backpacking, whereas a classmate might feel incredibly anxious and distressed at the same thought.
It is not the event itself that gives rise to their individual feelings, but the way they have interpreted the event.
When our core beliefs and thought patterns are maladaptive and negative, the way we interpret situations will also get distorted. This can often lead to problems such as anxiety, distress, emotional upset.
There are three main assumptions to consider when working through cognitive distress
1. Our feelings and behaviours are directly affected by the way we think.
2. Our negative or unrealistic thought patterns give rise to emotional distress.
3. If we can alter these negative or unrealistic thought patterns then we can reduce emotional disturbance and distress.
Maladaptive thinking is ‘learned’ and therefore can be ‘unlearned’ and changed.
So, my question to you is what is it you say to yourself about the things that distress you?
When you feel distressed, remember that the thought always comes first.