Shoka Magazine March 2023 – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Core Assumptions

Every life science has a set of core assumptions it operates out of.  The core assumptions of CBT are based on the assumption that the quality of our thoughts impact how we relate to our life’s experiences.  This means that the attitude and approach we take towards life, relationships and people will influence the outcomes we experience throughout life.  


Have you ever stopped yourself abruptly after realizing you’d been focusing on something unhelpful for too long? Perhaps it was something that didn’t go well in your day or something offensive that someone else said.  Whatever the situation was, it was something you knew was not a big deal in the grand scheme of life, and yet you felt the need to mentally replay it over and over in your mind.

Every time you give power to the little things that seem to bother you — when another driver is rude to you on the road, or someone doesn’t return your email right away — you’re choosing to be that anxious, unproductive energy. Every time we get caught up in our need to feel liked, approved of and respected or focus on how other people have wronged us, we are choosing to be the fear of being mistreated. Thinking is more than just an activity: it actually manifests as a state of being.

It’s not that we must swallow our feelings about the life events we’re experiencing (big and small) in fear they will somehow define us. But what if we were to begin questioning the thoughts that create our feelings, instead of creating unease and drama over something that we may not even remember in a few days from now, we prevent the negativity from consuming us. We tend to spend so much of our time focusing on things that don’t really serve us when the thing that would actually help us the most is to focus our attention inward. If we can pay attention to and understand how our thoughts are influencing us, we will change who we’re being and how we are experiencing the world. It starts with a simple realization: we can feel free, present and be open in this present if we choose to let go of the worries that stand in our way.

Question: If you were to accept that this assumption was true, how might your attitude towards life and other people change?  


As previously mentioned, there are many things we can do to make us ‘feel better’. However, such things are only ever temporary diversions from the emotions or situations we’re facing in life. Plasters don’t heal wounds, but dealing with the root of the problem does. Dealing with the root of the problem means learning to identify and grow up out of the limiting beliefs and destructive thought patterns that we developed at an earlier stage in life.

Destructive thought patterns are repetitive and unhelpful thoughts. They serve no real purpose and lead to negative and debilitating emotions. The truth is that we have a choice about how we react to these destructive thought patterns and once we learn to recognize and identify them, we can start to make wiser and more well-informed decisions about what we focus on. So how do we move through life in a way that is practical and authentic without getting drawn into negative thought patterns?

Become the watcher of your thoughts in order to become free from the negativity you must become more aware of what you’re thinking! Begin paying more attention to what’s actually going on inside your mind at any given time. Pay close attention to any patterns of negative thinking that arise. Become a curious observer of what is going on in your inner world.  Our minds are similar to a record player, playing the same habitual songs over and over again. Through lack of awareness, the record continues playing because its momentum is used to moving in the familiar grooves.