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Page Title: Cognitive Restructuring
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that  match  your  stress  style,  chances  are  you  are having  trouble  regaining  your  normal  resistance  level when dealing with stressful situations. Cognitive Restructuring Cognitive restructuring is one of those 10-dollar words that means something simple. In this case it refers to changing your thinking. Most people have a normal tendency to relate their feelings back to an event without evaluating how their thinking toward that  event  caused  the  feelings.  The  ABC  model  in figure  3-9  shows  us  that  the  event  itself  does  not actually   cause   the   negative   feelings   or   stress responses.  It’s  how  we  think  about  the  event  that determines the feelings. If  we  want  to  reduce  the negative effects of stress, we can change the way we think about the stressors. THINKING   THAT   CONTRIBUTES   TO NEGATIVE  FEELINGS.–  Some types of thinking generally   result   in   negative   feelings   or   stress responses. We need to evaluate our thinking to see if we are contributing to negative feelings by engaging in any of the following activities: Catastrophizing.– Catastrophizing is thinking that “this  is  the  worst  thing  that  could  happen.” Sometimes we tend to let an event build up in our mind  until  it  seems  overwhelming. Polarizing.– This is feeling that a situation must be all good or all bad. We need to look beyond the part of a situation that we don’t like to see the benefits. Living a Role Myth.– This can be a positive or negative role myth. Thinking that all salesmen are underhanded  and  devious  is  a  negative  role  myth. Thinking that a parent must be perfect is a positive role myth. Both can result in negative feelings when we feel we need to live these roles. Should  and  Oughta  Being.–  When  we  start thinking everything should or ought to be a certain way, it is difficult to accept things as they are. Personalizing.– This   is   when   we   feel   that everything that happens to us is about us. A recruiter whose  applicant  is  permanently  medically  rejected may feel that the military entrance and processing station  (MEPS)  doctor  is  against  him  or  her.  In reality, the MEPS doctor is doing his or her job and most  likely  doesn’t  even  know  the  recruiter. MAKE   SURE   YOUR   THOUGHTS   ARE RATIONAL.–  When evaluating your thinking, ask yourself if the thoughts are rational. Are they real? Are they helpful to you? Are they useful in reducing conflict with other people? Do they help you achieve short- or long-term goals? Do they reduce emotional conflict? If the answer is no, you may need to let go of those thoughts. Try  replacing  them  with  more rational  thinking. CHANGING OUR THINKING.– Using the ABC model  let’s  look  at  an  example  of  a  recruiter  who experienced negative feelings after a car pulled out in front of him on the expressway. A. Event B. Thoughts C. Feelings Car pulls The guy is a jerk. Anger out in He can’t drive. Frustration front of Why me? Self-pity recruiter. old  people  can’t  drive. They  should  take  away his  license. When we evaluate the thoughts, we find the recruiter is polarizing, using a role myth, and personalizing. The thoughts are not rational. They do not help the recruiter  deal  with  the  event  at  all.  Rewriting  the thoughts  will  result  in  entirely  different  feelings: A. Event B. Thoughts C. Feeligs Car pulls out He probably didn’t see Relief in front of me. Concern recruiter. I bet he feels bad about it. Empathy That’s  happened  to  me Happiness before. I’m glad we avoided an accident. This may seem like a little thing, but it’s all the little things that combine to push us out of our optimum level of arousal and become overwhelmed. Stress Is an Activation Stress  can  be  said  to  be  an  activation  of  our thoughts.  Let’s  review  some  of  the  techniques  to make sure stress activation does not take a negative toll. 3-20

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