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We all carry an 'inner hypnotist" around with us in the form of deep-seated beliefs about ourselves, the world, and the future, which psychologists refer to as out schemas. When these schemas tell us negative things about ourselves, they can act like an "inner hypnotist" which keeps us from acting in accordance with our own best interests, and we are usually not even aware of them until they are pointed out to us. Cognitive-behavioral therapists frequently use a document called a thought record in order to examine just what goes on when we keep making those angry responses that keep getting us into trouble, which can also serve as a guide for constructing appropriate hypnotic suggestions and autosuggestion's. Here is what one looks like, courtesy of www.getselfhelp.co.uk. They also provide a summary of the STOPP technique, which they describe as "CBT in a nutshell," and which can be summed up in one sentence: "Try not to act merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself."
Here is a video in which the STOPP technique is humorously demonstrated by comedian Bob Newhart. Behind his humor there is more than a grain of truth!
Following is a hypothetical example of how the anxiety thought record form might be used to see a situation from a different perspective. Using the example of being suddenly cut off in traffic by another car, with the column headings in italics and one set of possible responses in standard type. You can practice using these forms for a number of other hypothetical situations, or situations that have actually made you angry in the past, in order to be prepared for a variety of possible situations in the future.
Situation: A car suddenly swerves in front of you and slows down, causing you to slam on your brakes in order to avoid hitting it.
Feelings, Emotions,: An increase in heartbeat and blood pressure, clenched jaw, faster breathing.
Emotions/Moods (rate 0-100%): Anger.
Physical Sensations & Reactions: Swearing, gripping the steering wheel
Unhelpful Thoughts/Images: Urge to speed up and pass the car in front of you, honk at the driver, make an angry gesture, and cut back in front of him.
What I Did/What I Could Do/What's the Best Response? (Re-Rate Emotion 0-100%) Realize that the emotion will pass in a few moments, but if you act on it the situation could escalate and possibly lead to serious complications.
Just as reading a book on surgery will not make you into a surgeon, and reading an exercise manual will not build muscles, merely reading a Blog posting on how to train yourself to avoid stress will not be enough to enable you to get rid of it. People who practice meditation do not hope to attain enlightenment merely by reading about it, Regular practice using the thought record for a variety of situations is the key to making CBT work for you
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