Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When Something Is Really Bothering You

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When something is really bothering you three common remedies are to talk about it, to cry over it, or to sleep on it. What’s fascinating when we stop to think about these remedies is that they don’t really change anything about the concrete situation. All of the external variables remain the same after talking, crying, or sleeping.

What does change is your attitude towards these external variables, your beliefs about yourself, others, and the world. Sometimes this change in attitude makes all the difference in the world. It makes a difference in that you feel more equipped to bravely face the unalterable facts of your present, and it also makes a difference in that by closing that currently open gestalt through talking it out, crying it out, or sleeping it out you prime yourself to make the best choices under the circumstances for a better future.

There are really only two channels for finding relief if you’re unhappy with your current set of circumstances. You can change them or you can come to accept them. Not working to change your bad circumstances when you’re capable of doing so is a form of masochism, but we’ve also got to recognize that we all face certain variables in our lives that are unalterable, that no matter how much you wish your particular unalterable circumstances were different you’re hitting your head against the wall when you try to change them because they’ll never change.

Separating those unwanted external variables that are changeable from those that are unchangeable is half the battle. The other half is finding a way to live with the things you can’t change, to realize that despite their unchangeability you still retain the power to alter your beliefs around them and thereby find psychic relief. You retain the power to either leave those unwanted unchangeable variables hanging, which is like leaving open wounds unattended, or to accept them, which is like bandaging those wounds in order to let them heal so that you can eventually move forward in spite of your scars.