Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Your thoughts and actions affect your mood.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a non-invasive form of psychotherapy that’s often used for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. It’s a form of talk therapy that’s all about questioning your negative thought patterns and behaviors.

The idea behind cognitive behavioral therapy is quite simple: your thoughts and actions affect your mood. That might sound like a “no duh” statement, but it’s actually quite profound: if we can challenge our problematic thoughts, and if we can change our habits, then we can ultimately change how we feel.

CBT involves self-observation to identify problematic thought and behavior patterns, self-reflection to challenge those negative patterns, and creating a plan of action to correct or replace them.

Way back in BJJ Mental Models episode 103, we had a great conversation about depression with Jiu-Jitsu black belt and psychotherapist Dr. David Ley. Dr. Ley brought up a great insight on depression that’s relevant to CBT: depression is a vicious cycle because if you feel depressed, you’re more likely to act depressed, which in turn is more likely to make you feel depressed.

As an example: if you’re depressed, you’re more likely to engage in depressive behavior. You might find it difficult to go outside and engage with people. But unfortunately, that kind of avoidant behavior is exactly what a depressed person would do…and so getting into the habit of never leaving your house leads to further depression. Which makes you more of a shut-in, and the cycle perpetuates…until you break the habit.

So when you’re in this depressive state, one of the best things to do is: start acting like you’re not depressed. There’s an element of “fake it ‘til you make it” here: by acting happier, we can actually become happier. There’s a great CBT technique called reflecting “as if,” which gives us a simple process for getting started. That said, if you need help, don’t go it alone: always seek the guidance of a professional therapist.


On the podcast:


Further study:

Master this mental model with our audio courses.


Learn over 150 mental models for Jiu-Jitsu.

Exclusively on BJJ Mental Models Premium.

Try it free. Cancel anytime. No bullshit. Only $20/mo.