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Previously I described the process for the three-column technique: a core exercise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy developed by Dr. Burns. As I’ve mentioned before, I think CBT supports the majority of other self development work I have learned about and done. I like it because it has a scientific grounding, but I love seeing opportunities where some of the more spiritual and “woo woo” work either overlaps with or can be combined with CBT. For example, one of my favorite teachers, Jess Lively, teaches a method of writing to your intuition. I have found this to be a useful method to tap into my own internal wisdom which makes me feel more peaceful and grounded. I was doing the triple column technique on a negative thought when I decided to take it one step further and involve the intuition. I followed the standard process (described here in more detail here):
List automatic negative thoughts
List cognitive distortion
List rational response to thoughts
Then I paused, closed my eyes, and listened for my intuition’s thoughts on the situation. People experience this process differently. For me, I get small bits of text that are more of a feeling than something I hear verbally. I write it out as I hear or feel it and then go back and read what I wrote. Before doing this, I expected to get something similar to what I had written in my rational response. My intuition which is forgiving and benevolent surely would have a similar realistic outset. But every time I have done this, I am absolutely blown away by how the intuition can take it to a whole new level. It’s almost like the initial thought is the instinctive response, the rational thought is the logical response, and the intuition is the wise response.
For me, this combined technique is more powerful than just the three-column technique on its own and more powerful than just writing to my intuition on its own. There is something about taking a thought through this process that breaks it down in a way that really resonates with me. Perhaps this is because the leap from the cognitive distortion to the intuitive response is too far, that I don’t always see the connection between the two. Or perhaps this is because stopping at the rational response gives me relief from the negativity but doesn’t inspire me to rise above it. Either way, it’s focused, specific to me, and relatively quick relief from a negative emotion. To help demonstrate how this could work, here’s an example:
I wish I had gotten more sleep last night because now I don’t know how I am going to get through the day. Why can’t I sleep better, is there something wrong with me? I want to complain about it because it sucks and is screwing things up and I don’t have any time to nap today.
Should’s. Predicting the future. Magnification.
It’s possible that there was a reason that I couldn’t sleep last night and my body is either telling me something important or will adjust in time. Once I move around and get into the tasks I need to do today, it is possible that I will forget a little bit how tired I am. And if all else fails it’s okay for me to drink some extra caffeine today. Today doesn’t have to be my most productive day in my life, but I can enjoy whatever level of productivity and energy that I feel without beating myself up.
You are lit up right now and that fire is hard to dampen. Don’t be afraid of the physical limitations of the body. Your soul is on its own time table and level.
Can you see the evolution of the thought while it is taken through this process? It’s also worth noting that the intuitive response can be a bit obscure to understand. I always find it to be extremely personalized, something that ultimately makes sense and resonates with me, but perhaps would not with everyone.
So there you go! The updated three-column technique to take you to the next level.