Dr. Robert Heller’s Self Improvement Newsletter
“Mind-Body Strategies for Healthier Living”
Quote of the Month
“Be careful of what you think about. Your thoughts become words, your words become actions, your actions become habits, your habits become your character… and your character becomes your destiny.”
A key tenant of cognitive therapy is the role our thoughts play in our moods and actions. Habits, once acquired, become difficult to change. This month’s featured article will address the first part of the change process and provide you with a practical exercise.
Defeating Negative Thinking
Negative thinking is easy to acquire and once it becomes a habit, requires consistent effort to change. Defeating negative thinking requires you to first become aware of what your negative thoughts and when they occur. Next, you need to make a list of the negative thoughts. Then, you need to come up with a “better” thought to “replace” the negative thought and practicing thinking and saying the replacement thought whenever the negative thought comes to mind. You must practice saying the new healthier thought STRONGLY and PASSIONATELY in order to get a change at the feeling level.
Defeating negative thinking requires systematic practice. Here is a mental exercise you can practice with:
I use this with tennis players, although you can see how easily it can be adapted to use with other sports or even in non-athletic related situations.
Here is a list of common negative thoughts associated with playing competitive tennis. For each negative statement, write a more desirable positive statement.
1. Oh no. I have to play this opponent in the first round, I have lost to him twice before.
2. I can’t believe I missed that shot. What’s wrong with me?
3. I am down 3-0. I don’t have a chance.
4. That’s the second backhand I missed. My backhand is the worst.
5. I double faulted on game point. I really suck.
6. I should be killing this guy. I’m so much better and I’m down 3-1.
7. It’s unbelievable. That’s the second shot of mine that hit the line and he called it out. What a cheater!
8. I was ahead the entire set and now it’s 5-5. I’m terrible. I’ll probably end up blowing the set and losing the match.
9. My overhead was great in practice all week and now in the match I have missed 2 of them.
10. I can’t get over that bad call last game. It was such an important point.
Write any additional negative thoughts that are specific to your situation on the piece of paper.
On a separate sheet of paper for each negative thought, come up with a more desirable thought to counter the negative one.
Now you have completed the first step in defeating negative thinking.
The Risks of Anti-Depressant Medications for Young Adults
According to an article published in the Washington Post several years ago, widely used anti-depressants DOUBLED the risk of suicide behavior in young adults aged 18-25. After concerns were raised in the Netherlands about the suicide risk, there was a 22 percent drop from 2003 to 2005 in anti-depressant prescriptions for patients under 18, which resulted in a 50% increase in suicides. This poses a dilemma of when and for whom to prescribe these medications for and suggests a careful and comprehensive evaluation be conducted to decide on the best treatment approaches on a case by case basis. For more help on understanding and managing depression, see my pocket sized guidebook, DEPRESSION, available on the products page at www.cognitivetherapy.cc
On Saturday, October 20th, from 3-5:30pm, I will be presenting a workshop with owner and yoga teacher, Stephanie Streff of Yoga Sol in Delray Beach, Florida. The topic will be “Yoga and Athletic Performance: Blending Yoga and Psychology for Improved Results”. I will be presenting useful ideas on mental skills training while Stephanie will provide instruction in key poses for improving flexibility, strength and balance. Cost is $45 or $35 each with a friend. The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 25 participants. No yoga experience is needed and it is open to athletes of all sports and skill levels. To register, call 561-272-8699.
If you know someone else who’d be interested in receiving these mailings on mind-body skills and peak performance trainings, please encourage them to sign up through my websites, www.mentalskillstennis.com, http://www.cognitivetherapy.cc or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading, “ATTN: add to e-mail list”. Thank you.
Be sure to check out the new blogs and articles on each of the websites as they are updated fairly regularly.
If you have ideas for future articles or questions about your own performance, send them to me at email@example.com.