Thoughts of a cognitive behavior psychologist

I was just thinking that writing down my thoughts and psychology advice, I think a just once mentioned that I am working with clients every day from a cognitive behavior perspective. The things I write about are questions and thoughts and discuss with patients and things I have thoughts about myself from my everyday work. The advice I give are either mine or those of someone who does research on a specific subject.

I choose the topics from what I know have been interesting to many of the patients I meet and hopefully they will be helpful to people who read my blog.

The brain, the body and stress

Good stress and bad stress

Our body is made for being able to cope with stress that lasts for a limited time. It is not made for stress that lasts for a long time.

When stress lasts for a long time you get scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack, the cells in hippocamus (a part in your brain where you remember things), get damaged which makes you forget things. The more symtoms you get, the more helpless you will feel. The psyche wants control so the sense of helplessness is anxiety provoking and often leads to different destructive behaviors.

People react in different ways when they feel helpless. Some people get depressed and can´t get out of bed while others get impulses to act on  behaviors that lead to satisfaction in the short run but are destructive in the long run.

Things you should do when you feel out of control and helpless

When we feel negative feelings like anxiety, hopelssness etc, it is common that we get urges to do things that we feel are helpful here and now; like drinking eating  yelling at someone etc. The problem is that these behaviors have the opposite effect in the long run, you often feel more helpless than you felt in the beginning.

Example: You feel devastated because your partner is having angry outbursts at you pretty often and you never know in advance when they wll come- You try harder and harder to please him or her but it does not seem to help.

Answer: If the above desribed situation has been going on for some time it is important that you change strategy. Do not continue to do what feeels best that moment, that is to please and run over your own needs. I know that this is hard but try to think about what happens to  three year old children that don´t get limits; they often turn into small Hitlers; well, I think it is the same thing with adults. I think the the psyche feels good when there is structure, it does not like when the limits are floating around.

A good technique is to validate the feeling but to stop the behavior. “I can see that you feel angry and that is ok, but these insults are unacceptable and I will not tolerate them.

If you are “only” emotionally dependent on the insulting partner, this technique will often work. If you financially or in other ways dependent on your partner, try to sit down and see what alternative ways you have to get out of the dependency or put a limit to how long te dependency will last. The psyche can endure to feel anxiety but it wants to know for how long the bad feeling will last. If is sees and end it can easier endure the pain.