Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What I Learned About Cognitive Therapy

Monday at work we had a lunchtime presentation about helping your moods by controlling your thoughts... basically cognitive therapy. It was very interesting. The premise is based on this quote from the philosopher Epictetus, "Men are disturbed not by things themselves, but by the views which they take of them."

The speaker used this model:

Not all people react to the same events and situations in the same way. That's because they have different thoughts and beliefs which they filter them through. One very simple example of a negative thought process uses getting a "B" grade in school. The statements then became: I must always get an A. If not, then I am a failure. Therefore, I deserve to be punished.

The problem with this is that you are using an event or situation to measure who you think you are and that is a false measurement of worth. Your worth can never change or be measured by man. He then tied this to several scriptural references that are worth noting. It sure sounds like God thinks we are worth something!

"Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?" (Matthew 6:27)

"They measuring themselves by themselves... are not wise... but... our measure [is] according to the measure of... God." (1 Corrinthians 10:12-13)

"What is man, that thou are mindful of him?" (Psalms 8:4-5)

"For ye are bought with a price..." (1 Corrinthians 6:20)

"The worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10)

"Thou wast precious in my sight." (Isaiah 43:4)

That puts the focus of the battle right on our thoughts. If we can use correct thought processes we can direct our feelings toward positive things. The presenter used the following quotes to illustrate why this is so important.

The premortal war was "a terrible conflict for the minds and loyalties of God's children." (Hinckley, Ensign May 2003, p. 28)

"Satan with his angles will try to capture your thoughts and control what you do." (Packer, Ensign November 2003, p. 25)

"Thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains." (2 Nephi 28:22)

And to further elaborate on these "chains of hell."

"Satan... the father of all lies... to lead them captive at his will." (Moses 4:4)

"Creeds... lies... confusion... [become]... the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell." (D&C 123:7-8)

An interesting side note on "the father of all lies" is that try as we might we can never have a false thought that is original. All lies originate with the devil.

Maybe what we all really need to do is change our thoughts to something along the lines of... I must always strive to get an A. If not, I know that I did my best work. Therefore, I can be happy with a B.

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