WEEK 3 UNDERSTANDING OUR THINKING
Humans are thinking, feeling and behaving beings. Within each of us, these three factors (thinking, feeling and behaving) interact all the time and influence each other. How we interact with our environment through our emotions and thoughts also play a role in determining the transmission of messages within our bodies, and our stress experience.
People often think that events, incidents, bad luck, tragedy and bad illness days influence how you feel and therefore how you behave. However, it is the interpretation that we make of the events that happen to us that determines how we will feel and how we will act.
For instance, compare the examples below about how David might react to a suggestion that he regularly take a new medication to help with his flaring IBD.
The doctor suggests David try a new medication for his IBD.
“New meds always make my IBD worse!”
“What if I can’t cope?”
“It will cause more damage!”
“I can’t do anything!”
David avoided trying the new medication and did not go back to the doctor. His IBD is still flaring.
“What difference will it make?”
“She knows what she’s talking about”
“I need to build up my resistance”
“I’ll give it a go & see what happens”
David followed the medication program set by the doctor. His IBD is much improved.
In any situation that you find yourself unhappy with your feelings or actions ask yourself “What have I been thinking?” Once you recognise the impact that your thoughts have on your feelings and behaviours then you can learn to identify and then challenge your unhelpful thoughts.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WAY YOU THINK
As people learn that certain activities or situations sometimes lead to increased symptoms or distress, they can start to ANTICIPATE the distress or symptoms. This can lead to a build-up of pain and anxiety and an inability to cope.
Another common thing that occurs is that people GENERALISE their fears, so that difficulties that were associated with one particular situation become generalised to a number of similar situations because the person is worried, they expect the worst, they become anxious and then the worst usually happens.
The aim of this “thinking or cognitive approach” to stress management is to show you that the way you think about certain situations affects the way you feel about them and affects the way that activities are carried out.
OUR THOUGHTS PRODUCE FEELINGS THAT IN TURN PRODUCE ACTIONS.
The objective in challenging the way you think is not to try to convince yourself that things are better than they are, but to recognise when you are being unrealistic in your thinking. The cognitive approach also aims to make you aware of how your thoughts about IBD affect how you are able to cope with illness and with the stress in your life.
Learning how to recognise the patterns in your own cycles of thoughts, feelings and actions is the first step in learning how to change them and learning how to gain better control over your IBD. Controlling your own reactions and responses to IBD can change the situation from one in which the IBD controls you, to one where you have control over your life.
“They will probably dislike me because of the IBD.”
“They’ll think that I’m weak, that it’s all in my head.”
THOUGHTS & FEELINGS ABOUT IBD
UNDERSTANDING YOUR THINKING EXERCISES
Please take the time to read and complete the worksheets below, and to practice the muscle relaxation exercises.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXTION TRACK 1
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXTION TRACK 2
“I must be a failure and everyone can tell it”