Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Silaine Marquez, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Silaine discusses distorted thoughts, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Silaine shares a story about how once a client was able to identify and correct her distorted beliefs, she was able to overcome her depression. She shares how to identify distorted beliefs in your own life.

Silaine Marques

So for example this lady that I’ve been working with, she was having a lot of issues with sleeping, not being able to sleep properly. She was having ideas that if you’re not good enough, it’s okay to be punished, and it’s okay to be abused. Some self-loathing thoughts, like I’m not good enough, I’m worthless, God mustn’t really love me or care about me if these things are happening in my life. My dad didn’t really appreciate me, therefore it must be true that there’s really no purpose in my life. As we started talking more, and as she started realizing where these thoughts were coming from, she started believing again in a loving, compassionate God. She started really putting forth her own talents. One of the misconceptions that she had was that if she is talented, and if she’s trying to do something for somebody else, it’s because she’s prideful. She was afraid of falling into that, not being humble enough, or something like that.

Once she started realizing that that was not true, that God wanted her to put her talents forth, to use it for His glory, not for her own, and that, no, God was not like her dad, mean and vindictive and punishing ... As soon as she started changing those beliefs, she started having that peace again. She was able to sleep. Things started getting back into more of a normalcy there. The relationships also started getting better, because she’s really regained that sense of worth and value in her identity.

Yeah. For example, your car breaks down in the middle of the street. That’s a simple situation. Okay. It can be pretty stressful sometimes, if you’re late for work, for example. You identify that that situation was a trigger for certain emotions, your car breaking down. Some of the emotions could be anger and irritation, some anxiety and fear, annoyance. Those would be some basic emotions, and maybe some sadness.

Then once you recognize what are these emotions, ask yourself, “What are the thoughts that are leading to my anxiety?” Well, the belief that when I get back into work and I’m late, my boss is going to come and he’s going to give me a lecture again. It’s not going to be good, and I’m not going to be able to do the things that I’m going to do. Not only that, but I don’t have money to pay for ... to fix this, and my wife is going to be complaining when I get back home. Okay. Those are certain beliefs and certain automatic thoughts that just jump in your mind, “Oh, this is going to be terrible.” Those are the beliefs.

Did the next step, identify if there are any distortions in the way you’re thinking. One of them would be jumping to conclusions. Right? When you say, “Oh, I’m going to go back to work and my boss is going to give me a lecture.” Wait a minute. Why is it jumping to conclusion? Well, because I don’t really know that that’s what’s going to happen. I could actually call and I could tell them about it, and it might not be that bad. Right?

The next step, after you’ve determined what was a distortion, you have to dispute that thought. You have to really try to change it into something that goes against that distortion. If I know that I’m doing some magnification of the problem, or if I’m doing some emotional reasoning, then I’ll know what to do next. How am I supposed to be thinking? Then once you put those thoughts in order, you’ll be calmer.

You identify that emotion. What are the thoughts that lead to those emotions? What else can I think? Can I think differently? What does that make me feel after I’ve changed? What are the new emotions that come up? Peace, maybe just a mild irritation, but not freaking out about it. Right? That would be a basic strategy to go through the CBT.