Consciousness is a gift and burden. We can plan for the future and learn from the past but worry and rumination can be constant companions. Thinking is hard!
Cognitive behaviour therapy teaches us to identify and reframe ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’ (little ‘ANTs’ tunnelling through the recesses of our minds, causing havoc!).
‘TEBTEB’ is just an acronym to remember the steps.
Thought: Identify the ANT. Make it an ‘I am’ statement.
Example: ‘I’m unlikeable’
Emotion: How did the ANT make you feel? Usually it will be sadness, fear, anger or guilt.
Behaviour: Describe what you did next (or wanted to do).
Example: ‘I hid in my bedroom and watched movies all day’
Thinking trap: Label any unhelpful thinking styles. There are two types:
- Negativity bias:
- disqualifying the positive
- mind reading
- fortune telling
- all or nothing thinking
- emotional reasoning
Example: ‘Mind reading, labelling, emotional reasoning’
Evidence: Describe objective proof for and against the ANT – imagine you are detective or scientist for your thoughts.
Example: ‘For – none. Against – my friends and family tell me they love me’
Better thought: Reframe the thought. Healthy thinking is realistic, flexible, and useful.
Example: ‘An ANT is just a thought. I can let it go. There is evidence I’m likeable’
Tip: Try writing TEBTEB down to start with. Repetition helps. It will get easier with time.