A Spiritual Side to Psychotherapy, continued
Negative experiences – those that generate memories which have a negative emotional charge attached to them – are likely to have been accompanied by decisions that limit you in some way. So then we come to the crux of the matter (where the rubber hits the road, so to speak):
If you always think the way you’ve always thought,
You’ll always feel the way you’ve always felt;
And if you always feel the way you’ve always felt,
You’ll always do what you’ve always done;
And if you always do what you’ve always done,
You’ll always get what you’ve always got.
If nothing changes, nothing changes.
And that is okay if you are completely satisfied with the way things are going for you. If not, then it is time to let go of any negative emotions that may have become attached to the experiences you had in your past, and any limiting decisions as well, so that you can realize your fullest potential.
This is not to say that all negative emotions begin with negative thinking. Not at all! There are actually two routes to follow to become distressed. Both of these routes to distress begin with some event, which is then followed by either physiological arousal or negative thinking. The first is the “conditioned emotional arousal” route, which works as follows:
Event –> physiological arousal –> “negative thinking” (and “Negative” thinking merely refers to thinking that is supportive of becoming upset) –> distress (i.e., anxiety, anger or sadness, and in the case of sadness, the physiological “arousal” may rebound to become physiological under-arousal or suppression)
The second route to distress, and the one which is much more common, is the primarily cognitive route, which works as follows:
Event –> “negative” thinking –> physiological arousal –> distress
Please note that in each case, for distress to occur, both physiological arousal and negative thinking must be present. This suggests two particular approaches to treatment. The first, Systematic Desensitization, targets the physiological arousal; the second, Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), targets the negative thinking. Let me give you a bit of background on them: