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  • Writer's pictureMiles Mather

Improving your thinking to support yourself every day!

I would now like to share our core cognitive behaviour self-awareness model

As I talk through this simple cognitive model try to consider how it works for you on a day to day basis. Our thoughts create our feelings. The thoughts we have make us feel a certain way. What we think leads to our emotions. As we then have this feeling in our minds and we act. We act in a way which results from these feelings. Our feelings determine these actions. These emotions and feelings lead to both the actions that we select and that action being carried out in a certain way. Perhaps with confidence, belief and purpose, or perhaps half-heartedly.

The nature of this action, this response, then governs our results. The action in all it’s execution and it’s nature creates that result. Sometimes an effective result, sometimes an unproductive result. Then our results, the consequences of our action, determine our situation in our lives.

I’d like to share another story now. We don’t have many dinner parties but we had one a year or so ago. There were 6 of us in total my wife and I and two couple who were parents for our son’s school. Claire (I am changing her name by the way) was is one of the school mum’s and she tells us this story that happened to her. She is in the shopping centre in the town, she sees someone she knows from school, let’s call her Jenny, anyway she is one of the other mums. She thinks she has seen her but she does not acknowledge her, she keeps her head down and rushes past. Claire thinks to herself, maybe she doesn’t like me, maybe I upset her somehow. Was I too pushy with the school photos email I sent out last week about buying pictures? I must have upset her, I feel guilty, I feel awkward and uncomfortable now. Then Claire sees Jenny at the school gate the next day and keeps her distance, avoids striking up a conversation for fear of an embarrassing exchange. The relationship is never fostered. The possible friendship does not develop. What Claire does not realise that my wife actually knew is that Jenny’s mum was is ill in hospital, and she had a bit of other problems at home with her husband him working late too much while she was struggling with 3 young kids, and simply could not cope that morning with any friendly conversation. Actually, Claire and Jenny had a lot in common as they both had ill parents and a lot on their plates right now, and had Jenny reached out at the school gate and said hi, a bond and some mutual ground may have been found. Had Jenny chosen to think that the behaviour might have nothing to do with her. That perhaps Claire was having a bad day, Jenny may have felt better about the situation and may have acted differently and been more conversational at the school gate, a bond may have formed and the two families may have found themselves in Cornwall at a campsite, surfing and sunbathing, with the families getting on fantastically ….who knows what.

This is why cognitive behaviour is important. This is why understanding this and incorporating better awareness and management of our thoughts at the start of the internal dialogue it is essential in our lives. It is so simple and yet so true.

The key thing to recognise here is that while some of us may on some level be aware of this cognitive behaviour pattern most of us do not typically keep it at the front of mind. If you consider how you operate on a daily basis we are simultaneously moving back and forth within the model. With thoughts, feeling ideas and perhaps worse beliefs. This analysis of the pattern of cognitive behaviour comes from CBT.

Cognitive behavioural Therapy or CBT is originally a therapeutic discipline from psychotherapy.

The approach comes from Aaron Beck in 1976 and from the therapeutic disciplines

This course isn’t therapy this is coaching and our focus is around setting and achieving future goals rather than resolving past or present trauma. CBT focuses on 3 main areas beliefs, assumption and negative automatic thoughts here is a negative example for each of the three

Our Core beliefs. Negative assumptions and negative automatic thoughts.

An example of a core belief might be I am useless

Our negative assumptions associated with that might be – e.g. It is better not to try than to fail

And the negative automatic thoughts these assumptions create might be – e.g. People expect me to fail

For example “James said what I wanted to do was hard and I interpreted this to mean it was impossible for me.

If we come back to the main principles of CBT for a moment there are two main concepts used to effect a change in for people. First Collective empiricism and secondly guided discovery. Collective empiricism is a posh term from psychotherapy which means working together to understanding how our situation and perception comes from our experience and senses. As a group going through the course we too can engage in this working together.

Secondly in CBT these thoughts are explored deeply with what is called guided discovery.

In coaching we focus even more on self-guided discovery as we are looking to empower you to focus on understanding your mind.

As an approach coaching focuses on empowerment to reach future goals.

For us I want to simplify the core cognitive awareness concepts and invite you towards the acceptance of two points

The first point is that our thoughts are random and often and lacking in logic and fact base, to repeat our thoughts are random and often and lacking in logic and fact base. Our thoughts can be uninformed or arbitrary because they are the result of many stimuli and experiences which are in haphazard. Our brain is an information processing machine that makes connections, ignores, assumes, shortcuts and simplifies. It has to, we simply have too many thoughts for it to do anything else.

The second point is that our own review and exploration “our discovery” can improve this thinking and as a result all the following phases of the model. Our feelings, our actions and our results.

I would like to raise the subject of negative circular thoughts.

As our friend Sam is saying here: In a day we have typically have 60 to 80,000 thoughts.

We don’t know what most of these are. They are sub-conscious, yet we let them make us feel a certain way and drive our behaviour.

We might be less confident or worry about something not real or which isn’t going to happen.

Increasing cognitive awareness is fundamental to personal growth.

Can you consider some examples of negative thoughts maybe some repeating ones you have regularly?

Maybe take a moment and pause the video right now and write an example down. Press pause and take a few minutes.

How did that go?

If we accept that our thoughts are important in terms of their relationship with our feelings and behaviour, if we accept that they can influence our outcomes we can make the statement that they have an impact on our situation and our reality.

Do you agree that if we can influence our thinking we can influence our feelings and actions and results and change our situation?

I want to share some words from a neuroscience expert Dr Joe Dispenza

“We don’t have to settle for our current reality. We can choose to create a new one whenever we like. Because for better or worse our thoughts influence our lives. I am sure you have heard this before and perhaps are now starting to realise it is more real and important, but do you believe it on a gut level. If we truly embraced the notion that our thoughts produced tangible effects in our lives why would we not do everything that we could to never have a bad one, wouldn’t we focus our attention on what we want, instead of obsessing about our problems, think about it; If you really knew this principle were true, would you ever miss a day in intentionally creating your desired destiny?”

I hope you like Dr Joe- I think he is the man!

So for me the learning is that thinking positively is something we have control over and can start learning to influence and doing more of immediately.

Whatever our situation, however gloomy we may feel now and again this option is available to us right now.

In coaching we look at improving our thinking as a way to unlock potential.

We are working in the territory of positive psychology – an area that has been around since 1950 when Maslow coined the term. Positive psychology is the study of optimal performance and well-being which examined those who have positive characteristics and practices. We can also look at what successful and happy people have done and imitate these thinking approaches and behaviours. It is worth reflecting on the fact that this selected positivity comes purely from our mind and our thinking alone can induce greater well-being.

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