Brain Hacks

Culture or Cult

With so many self help books available nowadays, the concept of better living through books has become its own industry. Culture or cult? It all depends on how you look at it… or maybe just how large the twitter following is.

There are countless titles available, leaving it up to the layman (although let’s face it, laywoman would be more accurate) to sensibly select a doctrine by which they may attain their most elusive desires. Provided they actually know what they are.

As I am attempting to improve myself this year, I’ve decided to give the literature an opportunity to enlighten me.

The book I’ve chosen to kick off this exploration in lifestyle development is Dr Sarah Edelmans “Change your thinking”. It’s central thesis involves utilising CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) and mindfulness techniques to analyse and control negative thinking. It is quite interesting in that it discusses how to edit your thoughts in a very detached way. Filled with both textbook definitions and shockingly astute examples, the book truly shines through its execution of guided exercises. Providing the reader with practical techniques and tools they can immediately incorporate into their lives, as opposed to vague references on how the theories should work.

Personally I found the chapter discussing faulty thinking to be extremely beneficial in its provision of techniques, but more specifically of vocabulary.

For example, let’s say this rather upsetting thought runs through your head: “Nobody cares. I’m a burden to everyone.” The book would suggest that you identify and label that particular thought, before allowing it to escalate from thought to emotion. To actually stop and analyse whether this is a case of faulty thinking or truth.

Possible labels you may attach to this thought are:

  • That it’s an assumption, because it’s jumping to negative conclusions without adequate information.
  • It’s filtering, in that it only focuses on the negative elements and ignores the rest.
  • It’s over generalizing, is it even accurate? Are you really a burden to everyone? What about the people you’ve never even met? What about your pets?

By placing labels to such thoughts, you’re able to take a step back from them. Give yourself some distance and turn them into the intangible and often abstract nonsense that they actually are.

“Change your thinking” is perhaps one of the better options from the self help arena of your local bookstore. It’s foundations rest in CBT (an approach commonly practiced by clinical psychologists, which includes the author herself), bestowing upon it a certain credibility and heft. Although this denseness may result in a need for pause and reflection or multiple readings, it nevertheless maintains clear and concise methods for the reader to employ.

 

 

 

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