Critical Thinking

 

Keeping a balanced mind is as important as a balanced diet, while mental hygiene and stress management are as important as personal hygiene.
Currently 19% of people in the UK suffer with anxiety and/or depression. In a world so plagued, basic skills learned in youth could play a major part in curbing the anxiety epidemic.

As a former anxiety sufferer, I find there are very few better feelings than ending the therapeutic relationship with a client, having helped them overcome anxiety. Therapists are hugely privileged to be able to affect a person’s life in such a positive way. It is this moment that I most often hear these words; “I wish I had known the techniques you have shown me years ago”.

The simplicity with which we can overcome not only anxiety but many of life’s problems is often surprising. That is not to say it is easy to overcome problems such as anxiety, for some it takes a great deal of effort, it’s just that it is not that complicated.
With some basic knowledge and a handful of techniques we really can improve many aspects of life. I often suggest to people that some of the most prevalent issues we face as adults could be avoided or at least lessened if basic skills were taught in schools.

One of the most important skills we can work on is the application of ‘critical thinking’.
Let me make it clear I am not suggesting we become more self critical, I am using the term ‘critical thinking’ in the context of learning to think more objectively, logically and rationally.

The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as ‘the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.‘ statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

This may sound like a lot of effort but it’s really not as difficult as you may first imagine.

Applying critical thinking to the things that concern us most helps us to update beliefs that create unnecessary anguish and suffering.
Anxiety for example is often exacerbated by uncertainty and in many cases when we apply critical thinking we can reduce some of the factors that underpin uncertainty.
Critical thinking teaches us to reappraise our predictions or evaluate our interpretations of events, allowing us to make more reliable judgments.
Our anxiety can be lessened when we ask for supporting evidence or simply consider the alternative. When we look to compare the possibility that something could go wrong with the probability that it actually will, in many cases we reduce suffering undue angst.
Catastrophic assumptions can be tethered when realistic thinking is adopted.

In therapy we help people learn to make more balanced judgements through simple but effective questioning techniques.

If critical thinking skills were taught to young people it would not only help them adopt healthier mind sets and prevent the escalation of problems such as anxiety but in many other aspects of their lives. Critical thinking brings balance across a broad spectrum of topics from politics and religion to day-to-day problem solving and decision-making.
In my opinion critical thinking should be a key skill. Keeping a balanced mind is as important as a balanced diet, while mental hygiene and stress management are as important as personal hygiene.
Currently 19% of people in the UK suffer with anxiety and/aor depression. In a world so plagued, basic skills learned in youth could play a major part in curbing the anxiety epidemic.

There are a few other what I would term ‘basic’ or ‘key’ skills, that if learned early in life could prevent suffering. I myself would have greatly benefited from just a simple understanding of the fight or flight response. My own anxieties and the years spent suffering with panic attacks would have been lessened greatly with this basic knowledge and a few simple exercises.
Yet a lack of basic knowledge and understanding causes a vast amount of suffering. Change needs to occur on a wide scale, whether that be at home, at school or in the work place.

Critical thinking and relaxation are essential tools for those looking to both prevent and overcome problems such as anxiety and depression. For many of my clients in our Southampton therapy clinic, learning these basic skills serves as a turning point on a road to a better life.

If you are interested in learning how to reduce negative rumination or stop living in fear we can help.
Book a free telephone consultation today. Sometimes just making a call can help.

*Hypnosis is not suitable for all clients and results vary person to person. All our programmes can be delivered effectively without the use of hypnosis. 
Learn more here