Cognitive restructuring, a techniques that’s used in cognitive behavioral therapy, is the fast track to getting control of your emotions, decreasing stress, and making desired changes in your behavior.
And since “everything begins in the mind” (imagination), if you start with your thoughts, you’ll be able to take charge of emotions and establish new, healthier behaviors. For example, because you thought that improving your health was an important goal, and imagined participating in a comprehensive program to achieve this goal, you’re a member of My Pritikin now, learning the information and skills you need to be your best self.
Similarly, you can change self-defeating moods, attitudes, and behaviors by replacing negative, irrational, or undermining thoughts with positive, rational, empowering ones. Let’s look at some examples of small but challenging events that illustrate the kinds of experiences guests may encounter during their stay here:
- You weigh in and don’t lose as much weight as you expected to lose this week.
- You meet with your physician and find out your LDL cholesterol is high and your blood pressure is elevated.
- You were at Pritikin a month ago and you’re beginning to worry about how you’ll continue to maintain your healthy lifestyle at home.
What Do You Tell Yourself When Things Like This Happens?
When events like this occur, most people have an inner dialogue, also called “self-talk”. Often this “self-talk” contains common but irrational thoughts. Here are some examples of what people may think:
- I’ll never reach my goal weight.
- I have physical problems so I can’t exercise.
- I only did well because I was at Pritikin; at home, it’s too hard to stick to the program.
- No one else has the health problems I do.
- I have no will power.
These negative, irrational thoughts do nothing to help you evaluate your situation realistically and succeed in reaching your goals. Instead, they create feelings of stress, helplessness and hopelessness and can become self-fulfilling prophecies because:
Negative Irrational Thoughts Lead To Negative Attitudes, Moods, & Negative Behaviors!
For example, the five thoughts listed above can lead to these attitudes, moods, and behaviors:
- Overeating, abandoning the Pritikin Eating Plan.
- Returning to a sedentary life style.
- Going right back to your old habits.
- Feeling out of control rather than in control.
- Not developing winning strategies to maintain healthy nutrition and exercise habits at home.
But with cognitive restructuring, you can turn your worry and other unpleasant, unproductive feelings into thoughts and behaviors that put you back in charge of your life and improve your mood.
Spend some time today, identifying the thoughts that result in unhealthy lifestyle choices and unpleasant feelings. The “Feeling Good Handbook” by Dr. David Burns can help you calm your mind and trim your waist by teaching you how to do this.