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Beck Refresh Day 27: Master the Seven Question Technique

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I missed a day of blogging, but I’m back. Picking up with the Seven Question Technique. This is the one that I thought was overly complicated the last 2 times I worked my way through this book. This time, I am ready to tackle it and master it. My helpful responses to sabotaging thoughts aren’t perfect yet, so doing this again can only help.

When I have these thoughts, what I want to learn to do is automatically remember the helpful responses. To get there, Beck suggests we ask ourselves 7 questions when we experience sabotaging thoughts. I am paraphrasing some of the questions in a way that makes them easier for me to understand and remember.

1. What kind of thinking error could I be making?
2. What evidence is there that this thought might not be true, or completely true?
3. Is there an alternative explanation, or another way of viewing why I might be aving this thought?
4. What’s the most realistic outcome of this situation, if I respond to this sabotaging thought using the skills I have learned?
5. What is the effect of believing this thought, and what would the effect be of changing my thinking?
6. What would I tell a friend if she or he were in this situation and had this thought?
7. What should I do?

Beck suggests making response cards using what you learned using this technique. They could be more complex and situation-specific, or they could be as simple as “I’d rather be thin” or “get out of the kitchen!”

I will use this technique going forward. I have made a response card with the questions and I will make more as I use this technique.

Yesterday I didn’t blog because I got a late start running and then a busy work day and then out to dinner with friends. I did pretty well at dinner, did not have wine or cocktails when everyone else was, and pretty much stuck to what I pre-selected. I had a great time, remembering to not focus so much on the food, but on the company. My only error was desert, I had planned to have a couple bites only but I should have known that my husband wouldn’t have more than a couple bites and I could not let it go uneaten. Fortunately it wasn’t a large desert (gelato), but that would have been a good time to practice my 7 question technique. What exactly did I tell myself? Some combination of “I’ve been so good, it won’t matter, I deserve this, everyone else is eating desert.” Thinking errors abounding! I probably should have just gone ahead and planned it, it would have been more enjoyable!

Truthfully today was even more of a challenge. Both my sons were supposed to come over for lunch and to see the new house and they both bailed, for separate reasons. I was totally bummed! But I didn’t use it as an excuse to eat, even though we changed our plans and decided to go out for lunch instead. And nor did I break my resolve not to drink alcohol this month (except on my birthday!). I am proud of myself.

So, challenges each day but relative success.

Both days, I planned and tracked and with one exception, stuck to my plan. I sat down to eat, and ate slowly, enjoying every bite. I gave myself credit part of the time, mostly forgot. I could do better on that. I got out and ran both days, finishing my run in the freezing rain this morning (It wasn’t that bad). I read my response cards yesterday but forgot today. And I am blogging to stay accountable and making new response cards today.

Wishing everyone success at what you strive to achieve. And ending with the serenity prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

-Reinhold Niebuhr
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