Introverts & CBT

The past few years has taught me a few things that I am extremely grateful for, without which I think I would be mindlessly reliving the same type of things over and over. In fact that is most likely what had been happening to me many years before my breakdown.

You see, I never knew what an introvert was, so there was nothing that succinctly explained why I was the way I was and all these self-deprecating thoughts were in my head judging me and comparing me to other people. When these thoughts are recurrent they become core beliefs in that you think these judgements about yourself are true and define you. For example, “I think I am boring”, “I think that I have nothing to offer in a conversation and therefore that no-one will want to talk to me”. Unfortunately this becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because I’m predicting outcomes based on my core beliefs.  You can see from that how important it is to tackle these negative beliefs about yourself and finding out what an introvert is has partly helped me with this in being able to accept who I am a little bit more. That is why I am grateful for this term! I want the introverts of the world to rise up with inner knowing and belief in themselves! 

To challenge a core belief you need to find out what you think about yourself and write this down at the top of a piece of paper, for example “People don’t take me seriously.” This is your old (self-critical) belief. Then you need to switch this around to make your new (positive) belief. So in this example we can say “People value my opinion.” Now that you have these statements you need to find evidence to support your new belief and this can be an experience you have, something someone says to you or anything that supports the new belief. For example, you could write “People think I am intelligent so this is why they will value my opinion.” If you continue to find evidence to support your new belief you will start to diminish your old belief about yourself and in turn you will start to feel a lot more confident. 

You can find a ‘Positive Belief Record’ on this website https://www.psychologytools.com/worksheet/positive-belief-record/ 

I am also grateful to know that we do not have to follow every thought that pops into our mind. We can choose to let them go! Such a simple concept but unfortunately this was something I had to find out the hard way. I got carried away by every thought that cropped up and then began ruminating, thought upon thought constantly triggering a chain reaction. It’s hard to remember where it all began. Therefore, you should give yourself permission to let thoughts pass by. Become an observer of what is coming up in your mind so that you can determine whether it is something that actually needs any action and you can see things from a different perspective. As with challenging core beliefs this all takes hard work and determination so it is important to treat yourself with self-care to make sure you aren’t getting too fatigued. Also be sure to congratulate yourself on any progress you make no matter how small. Progress is still progress and that’s a step in the right direction!

Another gem of knowledge is a popular method with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) where you keep a thought record. There are a number of columns and they ask you to write down different aspects of the thought (there are questions to help you find this information within yourself) and at the end you are asked to find a more balanced perspective. I will attach a link to this sheet so that this makes more sense!! 

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/ThoughtRecordSheet.pdf

This is a good technique because it encourages you not to take things at face value and to find a more balanced perspective. People who have anxiety are likely to have unhelpful thinking patterns, such as “jumping to conclusions” where you imagine you know what others are thinking or fortune felling where you are thinking about what is going to happen in the future when the truth is that you do not know what someone else is thinking and you do not know what will happen in a future situation. This is why finding a different perspective is helpful because you could have been thinking about something in an unhelpful way which was not realistic. 

All of the questions on the ‘Thought Record Sheet’ force you to really find out what is happening and why you are feeling the way you are. It also makes you face the truth of your thoughts which can be a revelation in itself. Once you get to grips with what your fear is then you can try and find a way to dispel or disprove it, and if you can continue to do this then you are making real progress changing the way you think in future or you can cut off the thought midway and say “That’s not true” or flip the thought to something more positive. 

As an introvert, you get a lot of socially anxious thoughts where you start predicting what other people are thinking about you and there really is no way of knowing whether this is true so it is best if you can become more self-assured by believing in yourself more and not worrying about what other people think of you. The most important thing is that you are happy with yourself and those close to you.

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