Finding the courage to be your authentic self: CBT perspective

We've all been there. That sinking feeling of disconnect, a nagging doubt about whether we're on the right path.


Maybe life feels like a constant battle against depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem. These struggles can cloud our judgment and make it hard to see the good in ourselves and the world around us. But what if there was a way to break free, reconnect with your core values and build a life that feels authentic and fulfilling?

Amy's story

(without revealing identifying details)

Let's meet Amy (name changed for privacy). Amy felt constantly exhausted and drained. She loved spending time with her family, but the pressure to "be there for everyone" left her feeling depleted. Deep down, Amy craved independence and freedom, yet fear and anxiety held her back. This internal conflict fueled a cycle of negativity, impacting her health and well-being. Sound familiar?

The power of values

Imagine a compass guiding you through life's twists and turns. That's what our core values can be. These are the fundamental principles that shape who we are and what matters most to us. They provide a sense of direction and purpose, helping us navigate difficult choices and prioritise our well-being. However, when we neglect our values, life can feel like a constant struggle.

What are core values?

Core values are unique to each individual, but some common examples include:

  • Independence: The desire to be self-sufficient and make your own choices.
  • Health: Prioritising physical and mental well-being.
  • Creativity: Expressing yourself through art, music, or other creative outlets.
  • Compassion: Caring for and helping others.
  • Integrity: Living with honesty and strong moral principles.

Identifying your values

Finding your core values can be a journey of self-discovery. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Journaling: Spend time reflecting on moments when you felt truly fulfilled. What was important to you in those situations?
  • Reflection prompts: Ask yourself questions like "What truly matters to me?" or "What kind of person do I want to be?"
  • Personality tests: While not definitive, online personality tests can offer insights into your values (avoid specific tools due to potential bias).

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as a tool

Sometimes, negative thought patterns and anxieties can stand in the way of living according to our values. This is where cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be a powerful tool.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps identify and challenge distorted thinking patterns. By understanding how our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are interconnected, we can learn to reframe negative thinking and develop healthier coping mechanisms.

Using CBT to prioritise values

CBT can be a powerful ally in our journey to live according to our values. Here's how:

  • Challenging negative thoughts: Through CBT techniques like cognitive restructuring, we can learn to identify and challenge self-defeating thoughts. For example, instead of thinking "I can't handle this," we can ask ourselves, "Is this thought helpful? What evidence supports or refutes it?"
  • Developing coping skills: CBT offers tools like relaxation techniques and exposure therapy to manage anxiety and stress. With these skills, we can manage difficult situations without sacrificing our values.

Prioritising self-care

Just like a wilting flower needs sunlight and water, our well-being thrives on self-care. This isn't about indulgence, but about taking intentional steps to nurture our physical and mental health.

Self-care can include:

  • healthy eating and exercise
  • getting enough sleep
  • engaging in hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • setting healthy boundaries and saying no
  • practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques

Prioritising self-care allows us to show up for ourselves and others in the best possible way. When we feel rested and recharged, it's easier to live according to our values and pursue our goals.

Taking action

Now that you understand the importance of core values and have some tools in your toolbox, it's time to take action! Here are some practical tips:

  • Set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals will help you move towards living a values-driven life.
    Start small: Don't overwhelm yourself. Begin with manageable steps that align with your values.
  • Celebrate your progress: Acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small. This reinforces positive behaviour and keeps you motivated.
  • Seek support: Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Friends, family, support groups, or a therapist can provide encouragement and guidance.

Breaking free - your journey starts now

The journey towards living a values-driven life is empowering, but it's not always easy. Setbacks are inevitable, but they don't have to define you. CBT therapy can be a valuable resource during challenging times.

What is CBT therapy?

CBT therapy is a collaborative process between you and a licensed therapist. The therapist will work with you to:

  • identify your core values
  • explore the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours
  • develop coping mechanisms for managing negative emotions and anxieties
  • practice CBT techniques to manage difficult situations and make choices aligned with your values

Benefits of CBT therapy

CBT therapy offers a range of benefits:

  • reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • improved self-esteem and confidence
  • enhanced coping skills for managing stress
  • development of healthier thought patterns
  • increased sense of control and well-being

Ready to take control of your life?

If you're struggling with depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, and feel disconnected from your true self, you don't have to go it alone. CBT therapy can empower you to break free from negative patterns and live a life that feels authentic and fulfilling. Schedule a free consultation and discuss how personalised CBT therapy can help you overcome mental health challenges and rediscover your strength.

Remember, you deserve to live a life that feels meaningful and fulfilling. Take the first step today!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Bristol BS8 & BS2
Written by Tom Holland-Pearse
Bristol BS8 & BS2

Tom Holland-Pearse: Qualified therapist (9+ yrs) in NHS & private practice. Empowers individuals to navigate life's challenges & build emotional well-being.

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