How to overcome depression with CBT?

A year after being introduced to the idea of Belief Systems I completed my education in CBT. In the beginning, “belief” was just another word in my vocabulary. I knew it’s meaning and I had heard about it a lot from the motivational gurus such as Tony Robbins and Robin Sharma. But it was not till I learned REBT & CBT that I realized the true essence of beliefs. Previously, belief was just a word I used to throw out to explain my feelings and ideas. It was only after all this education that I can say – I have grasped the “true meaning” or really “understood” what beliefs are and how much they influenced practically everything in my life.

Before this enlightening experience, I used to “believe” that external events of life are responsible for my emotional states. They make me feel what I feel. And I had heard enough and been preached to that it is not true, basically every motivational speaker, book and YouTuber was saying it. But it was not something I could digest as it was not verifying with my logic and experience. In my experience, Beliefs had nothing to do with what I felt after an event of life. For example, when my crush smiled at me it was “obvious” to me that I felt tingling ecstasy because she smiled at me. it had nothing to do with by belief about the smile or the girl. Same thing with the internal events such as my thoughts. I feel certain things after thinking certain thoughts and it was obvious to me that the thoughts caused the feelings and not beliefs. Can you resonate with me? What has been your thinking till now? let me know in the comment section.

Now, after I have true understanding of how beliefs play an important role in my life I can see how ignorant I was. Truthfully speaking, I am glad that my ignorance broke after I learned CBT. It provides a framework and logical reasoning behind the infamous saying “your beliefs decide the quality of your life.” I would like to share the ABC model with you now.

We falsely rationalize that an event (A) is responsible for how we feel or consequences (C). We aren’t even aware that we have a rational belief (RB) or irrational belief (IRB) in between. In our ignorant minds the model is simpler, it is AC model. Let me give you a few examples which will hopefully help you understand this model.

Example: Belief that “In order to earn more you have to work more”

This was my strong belief. You might know my story of estrangement > depression > suicidal thoughts > anxiety. Because I was going through a lot of emotionally challenging situations in my life at a very immature age my work worsened my feelings. Because of my mental state I didn’t have enough energy to “hustle” and I was making only enough to “get through my month”. So my mind was in cognitive dissonance and agony. I wanted to earn more so that I could have some financial cushion and security but my emotional state couldn’t let me do it. I sell courses for my living. It is a type of passive income, it means even if I dont work for 3 months my income will be steady, it allowed me to take a vacation to process all the shit but I couldn’t allow myself to do that. I thought if I take vacation (stop working!) I would run out of money. That reality said otherwise. but my belief that “In order to earn more you have to work more” or “you should always work to have money” always kept me on run. I was always anxious.

So I used to think that it is my depression and low income that make me feel so terrible. but the truth was I had several irrational beliefs (IRB) about my situation that made me feel terrible. Here are some of those IRB that made my life living hell.

  • It is not okay to sleep in some extra hours when you feel low. In fact, I should be getting up at 4 to work.
  • It is not okay to skip your work days
  • Life is not easy, life is a struggle

Last one is interesting. My parents had struggled a lot in their early childhood and they always used to say “Aman, life is not easy, life is a struggle” maybe they were right. But in my experience, it is not true anymore. Life is easy and earning money is easy, comfortable life is easily achievable.

Because I was living my life according the belief I got from my parents “life is not easy, life is a struggle” I was making my perfectly comfortable life a struggle. I was deluded that it was external events that were struggle, NO, my life was good and it was my belief that “life should be a struggle” that I started to see it that way.

Aman Varma

The more I applied this model into my life the better I got. I had 100s of IRB about all areas of life. I still come across new IRBs but I am able to change them and live a good life with rational beliefs. If you want to learn Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and ABC Model checkout my course. I have covered many topics of CBT and I discuss how to cure worry using CBT. Of course once you understand how to use CBT you can use it for any problem and not just “worry”.

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2 thoughts on “How to overcome depression with CBT?

  1. Excellent information. However, the ABC model doesn’t always apply. Sometimes emotions occur due to classical conditioning. You may have heard of Pavlov’s dogs who were conditioned to salivate after hearing a bell. The Little Albert experiment found the same thing occurs with emotions. A 9 month old baby liked to play with a rat but was frightened by loud noises. When researchers made a loud noise after he saw the rat several times, little Albert became afraid of the rat and avoided it even when he didn’t hear a loud noise. The Activating Event was seeing the rat and the Consequence was fear but it wasn’t caused by his beliefs. It was caused by his mind associating the rat with fear.

    When classical conditioning involves emotions it’s referred to as a conditioned emotional response and can play a major role in anxiety especially when it occurs early in life such as in people with autism. For example, when people are born with autistic traits and other people react negatively to their behavior (criticism, frustration, disappointment, etc.), they may feel rejected. That can cause their mind to associate criticism, being themselves, and odd behavior with painful emotions. That association can make people sensitive to criticism and afraid to be themselves for the rest of their lives without any beliefs being involved although understanding it and changing beliefs, among other things, can certainly help reduce those associations and conditioned responses.

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