The power of everyday thoughts

This is Lisa. She is a 32 year old who has been trying to conceive with her husband William for over 2 years now. They have never been pregnant, and this is taking its toll on her.

She experiences a emotional roller coaster every month. In the weeks before her period she thinks that all of her premenstrual symptoms are pregnancy symptoms, and gets extremely down when she finds out that she isn't pregnant. However, she tries to stay strong most of the time and tries to not think about it. She bottles it up, and has breakdowns intermittently. I spoke to Lisa about this. Yesterday, around 2 pm she got so upset at work that she had leave her office and go for a short walk around the parking lot.

I asked her what had happened in the hours before he/she felt overwhelmed. At first she answered that she had no idea where this came from. After further questioning and analyzing of the situation, it came out that at lunch time she was having her lunch in front of the computer, and read a news story about an activity that can impact fertility in women.

Lisa tells me that she reads these sorts of stories all the time. She didn't understand why she was so upset by it yesterday. I asked her what she was thinking about after reading the news story. She answered that she started thinking about how much she regretted doing this behavior in the past. It became clear after our analysis of the situation that she had started blaming herself for her present difficulties.

This example shows clearly just how powerful thinking can be. Self-blame can go largely unnoticed, but it can cause people to become very upset.

CBT can be used to both detect and tackle thinking patterns like this, leading to a more balanced emotional life. In this instance, learning to stop blaming yourself for something in the past is helpful, since we can only change the present. As I have said before, the way we see the world has a significant impact on our everyday experiences. A whole section of the program (Part C) will be dedicated to CBT exercises to tackle problematic thoughts, such as blaming yourself.