Whenever a thought appears in our mind, it triggers a feeling. Based on this feeling we take an action which in turn may affect a situation positively or negatively. Simply put, our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings drive our behavior. This is called a cognitive triangle.
Thoughts are ideas, attitudes or perception about things. Feelings are emotions such as happy, sad, frustrated, anxious, etc. They can be experienced in varying degrees of intensity and usually have a physical sensation attached. For example, if someone is anxious they may feel tightness in their chest and have an increased heart rate. Behavior is an action we take and can be described as right or wrong, healthy or unhealthy, appropriate or inappropriate.
If we can identify our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we might learn important information that could help us change unhealthy patterns of behavior. We can take steps to challenge our thoughts and change the undesired behavior (easily loosing tempter, yelling). The change doesn’t happen easily and requires consistent work over a long period of time to change habits we have grown accustomed to and disrupt this cycle to instill more healthy ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment approach that helps you recognize negative or unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. CBT aims to help you identify and explore the ways your emotions and thoughts can affect your actions. It is used to treat a wide range of issues, such as anxiety, depression, and phobias. In general, there's little risk in getting cognitive behavioral therapy. But you may feel uncomfortable at times, e.g. exploring painful feelings, emotions and experiences. You may cry, get upset or feel angry during a challenging session. You may also feel physically drained.
Some forms of CBT, such as exposure therapy, may require you to confront situations you'd rather avoid — such as airplanes if you have a fear of flying. This can lead to temporary stress or anxiety.
However, working with a skilled therapist will minimize any risks. The coping skills you learn can help you manage and conquer negative feelings and fears.