What Is Cognitive Reappraisal and How Can I Develop It?

What is Cognitive Reappraisal and How Can I Develop It?

Have you ever been in a situation that caused you to react strongly with angry, hurt, or frustrated feelings? Everyone has, as it is a normal part of the human experience. Maybe you’ve wondered if there’s a better way to look at things and interpret them in ways that will help you be more successful in the future. This is where cognitive reappraisal can be extremely beneficial.

What Is Cognitive Reappraisal?

Cognitive reappraisal is a coping skill most often explored and developed during cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT studies the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With the help of a mental health professional, you can begin to recognize how strong emotions can color your interpretation of events, which can lead to unhelpful behavior.

CBT can help you identify faulty thinking and unhelpful thought patterns. Once you can recognize when your thoughts are problematic, you can begin to change your thought processes. During therapy sessions, you will begin to develop healthy coping skills and tools that will help you handle situations better. Cognitive reappraisal is one of these tools.

Moreover, cognitive reappraisal occurs when you try to actively analyze an emotional situation with the intent of changing how you feel about it. By doing this, you can gain a better understanding of the situation by considering a different perspective. This can help you learn from your experiences and grow as a person.

Can I Develop Cognitive Reappraisal Skills?

Some people are naturally inclined to engage in this type of perspective-changing. Even if they have a strong emotional reaction, they are able to process the situation and think differently about things if necessary. For others, this kind of situation reappraisal is harder. When we get caught up in strong feelings, especially negative ones, it can be really difficult to set those feelings aside and consider other perspectives. The keyword here is difficult – not impossible.

Our brains are amazing things and we can adapt different strategies and tools if we try. Often, it is most effective to work with a mental health professional who can walk you through different exercises that will help you see things differently. There are also things you can do on your own that can help you start making the changes you want to see in yourself. Consider the following:

  • Be Mindful: Pay attention to how you feel in situations and how your emotions cause you to react.
  • Analyze: Try to objectively look at how your feelings and actions influenced the situation.
  • Engage in introspection: Decide for yourself if you would like to make changes so that you handle future situations more effectively.

How Does It Work?

You can train your brain to think differently about emotional situations with the help of cognitive reappraisal. Cognitive reappraisal techniques ask you to think about experiences that provoked strong emotional responses. Following, it has you try to identify something you learned from that situation or an area that you think you could improve on in a similar situation. By reappraising the situation as a learning experience or growth opportunity, you can begin to control your emotional reaction.

One place you might start when developing this skill is by thinking about past experiences. You can start with one or two experiences from your past, then begin to regularly analyze emotional situations after they occur. Eventually, you will be able to reappraise situations that are happening in real-time and shape your behavior according to more positive reactions.

For example, If you weren’t able to complete an assignment on time you may have felt embarrassed, frustrated, or disappointed. However, you may also have learned that you need to prioritize tasks in a different order or ask for more help in order to be efficient. You might also have learned that you can count on your coworkers to be forgiving and supportive. By doing this kind of exercise on a regular basis, you will be teaching yourself to react differently in the future.

Where to Find Support

At Alter Wellness Care we offer a variety of evidence-based services, including CBT. Our team can help you discover more about why you think the way you do and how your emotions affect your behaviors. We can help you challenge your faulty thinking and replace negative thought patterns with helpful ones. Our goal is to empower you with coping skills that will help you manage any situation you face in the best way possible.

If you are looking for extra support in developing positive mental health, Alter Wellness Care is the place for you. Our compassionate team will help you through every step of the process from the first time you contact us all the way through the development of your individualized treatment plan. We want you to feel confident that you are receiving the best and most compassionate care possible.

Figuring out the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be difficult, but not impossible. With the help of a qualified mental health professional, you can identify faulty thinking and develop more healthy coping skills for any situation. Moreover, you will start to feel better and thrive. At Alter Wellness Care, we are committed to providing the best evidence-based care to each of our clients. We will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that fits your needs and helps you achieve your goals. Our goal is for our clients to feel welcomed and know that they are in good hands. Call us at (866) 311-3510 for more information about our services and resources. 

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