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For years, scientists have been using CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, to incredible effect. CBT, a psych-related intervention which includes a

For years, scientists have been using CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, to incredible effect.

CBT, a psych-related intervention which includes a collection of techniques used to improve mental health, includes many useful practices such as mindfulness meditation and self-monitoring.

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Photo Credit: Ben White on Unsplash

What’s so special about it though, is that it has been extensively shown through empirical research to be as effective as medication when it comes to treating a laundry list of disorders and conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
  • And BPD (borderline personality disorder)

That list is impressive in itself. However, anyone can use the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy to enhance their own well-being and help them succeed in life — regardless of whether they suffer from mental health issues.

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.

– Albert Ellis

The core of cognitive-behavioral therapy

CBT is based upon several basic universal principles that don’t only apply if you have a mental illness.

The core of CBT, and one of the most powerful aspects of the therapy, is understanding how human beings function on a very basic level. That’s typically broken down in this way:

Thought -> Emotion -> Behavior

Our thoughts influence our emotions which then influence our behavior. That sequence is then repeated, with our behaviors affecting our thoughts, and so on, which creates a perpetual cycle.

Just understanding this basic principle is incredibly powerful. Think of it this way: Because it’s a perpetual cycle, if you master one of the three areas, that area (your thoughts, for example) will then influence the other two areas and have an exponential effect on your well-being. 

By learning how to better manage negative thoughts, cultivate more positive ones, and increase self-awareness so that you can keep an eye on it all, you can master your thoughts, and as a result, master your entire life.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques for successwoman-sitting-and-thinking

There’s so much to CBT that can help you find success (however you define that), but three techniques in particular, which are core to the CBT model, are perhaps the most valuable.

Here are three CBT techniques which, when used together, create a highly effective system for increasing your chances of success in everything you do. Use them together as a system for self-improvement:

1. Self-monitoring

Self-monitoring is exactly what it sounds like.

You need to increase your self-awareness and continuously monitor your performance if you ever hope to make the kind of meaningful improvements that will allow you to realize success.

One of the best ways to increase self-awareness and create a system for self-monitoring– and a common practice used in CBT– is mindfulness meditation.

2. Evaluation

Regularly evaluating your progress is the next natural step once you’ve established a system for self-monitoring.

No matter what you’re trying to do, you need to stay on top of your performance so that you’re making consistent strides towards your goals. Sometimes, we’re doing great. But, other times, we fall off track. You need to know when it’s the former and when it’s the latter.

With a system for regular evaluation in place, you can ensure you never fall off track for long, and can quickly course correct when you run into problems.

3. Cognitive tools

There are various cognitive tools commonly used in CBT that you can utilize to move yourself towards success, however, there are two in particular that I believe are most important because they help complete this system of self-monitoring and evaluation.

What happens when, as a result of your self-monitoring and regular evaluations, you identify a problematic behavior or way of thinking? It’s not enough to keep self-monitoring and evaluating your performance, you need to use an effective technique for handling the problem at its root.

There are several techniques you can use here, but cognitive tools such as the ABCD model and dysfunctional thought record can help you transform these problematic behaviors for good, allowing you to continue pushing forward without being held back.