Sunday, February 05, 2012

Experiments in Living

I've posted an article on my cognitive therapy blog about how to design behavioural experiments for clients.
But why restrict their benefits to CBT clients? The basic idea is simple
Don't assume, test it out
I think there are two main categories of assumptions we often make that don't do us any favours.

1) Habits we unconsciously repeat

2) Assumptions about other people

Let's look at both of these in turn and how you can conduct helpful experiments in living without going anywhere near a therapist.

How much do we live on autopilot, without really evaluating whether its conducive to our flourishing? Here is a random list of such activities that you might do

  • getting up at a particular time each day
  • what you eat, drink and consume in other ways
  • when you eat
  • what route you take to work
  • who you speak to
  • whether you smile
  • how you react when someone makes you angry
  • how much encouragement you give people
  • how much time you devote to relaxation
  • how much time you devote to personal development
  • how much television you watch
  • how much radio you listen to
  • which books you read and when
The list could go on. My challenge is for you to try out an experiment in living today.  Identify one habit that you think may not be working out so well for you - and test out whether an alternative works better. For example, if you think you don't listen to the radio enough - make a point of listening to it today. If you think you would like to try getting up earlier - do so- and record the results. 

Let's now look at the assumptions we make about other people
  • what other people think about us
  • whether we have upset people
  • which other people we can help
  • which other people will enrich our lives
  • why other people are behaving in the way they are
How much do these assumptions rule our lives, without us even bothering to check them out?
Why not think about an assumption about other people you make that may be inaccurate, and make a point of checking it out.
I've just been reading  some behavioural experiments done on themselves by some students in a CBT course I am giving and am struck by how much they have benefited by carrying out  some simple, easy experiments.

Don't assume, test it out

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