Oct 04

Cognitive Restructuring: A Joke About How It Works

Cognitive restructuring, sometimes also called reframing, “refers to any methods which help people to think differently about a situation/event/thought/belief.” Such methods are useful when your perceptions about things just aren’t working for you.

In cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, the idea is to identify one’s irrational or unhealthy thoughts and then learn to change those into more rational thoughts and/or actions. If CBT exercises are practiced on a regular basis, there is often a reduction in one’s symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.

CBT is not the only type of therapy, though, that utilizes cognitive restructuring. Many different clinicians incorporate this into their styles and methods. A few common techniques among practitioners include using the Socratic method, analyzing thought errors or cognitive distortions, and questioning emotional-based reasoning.

But the following joke found on Boulder therapist Barry Erdman‘s website illustrates a type of cognitive restructuring that probably wasn’t learned at the shrink‘s office.

A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat. ‘I’m the greatest hitter in the world,’ he announced.

Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed.
‘Strike One!’ he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, ‘I’m the greatest hitter in the world!’ He tossed the ball into the air.

When it came down he swung again and missed. ‘Strike Two!’ he cried.
The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together.

He straightened his cap and said once more, ‘I’m the greatest hitter in the world!’ Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. ‘Strike Three!’

‘Wow!’ he exclaimed. ‘I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!’