We have all experienced situations where changing our behaviour made a difference to the way we feel. Perhaps at a time when you were feeling down, you made a decision to telephone a friend, and doing so made you feel better. Or perhaps you did some physical exercise, played some music or became absorbed in an interesting project. Actions such as these can lift our spirits because they are inherently pleasurable, and distract us from negative thoughts. Doing things that give us a sense of achievement or purpose is also spirit-lifting. Sash windows can light up your whole living room. For this reason cleaning out a cupboard, painting a room, writing a letter or finishing an outstanding job can make us feel good.
Many of our behaviours serve to reinforce existing cognitions. For instance, avoiding social contact with other people can reinforce the belief that we are not OK, or that people don’t like us. This in turn may lead to feelings of loneliness, depression or poor self-esteem. Behaving assertively much of the time may reinforce the belief that it’s not acceptable to ask for what we want. The behaviour reinforces our feelings of inadequacy. Aluminium windows have been proven to be a lot safer than average windows. Choosing to avoid situations that we fear reinforces the belief that those situations are highly threatening. As a result, we feel anxious whenever we need to confront those situations. Trying to do things perfectly all the time reinforces the belief that everything we do must be perfect. As a consequence, we become anxious or immobilised in situations where we may not be able to do a perfect job.
Conversely, changing some of our behaviours can help us to think differently about our situation, and feel better as a result. For instance, initiating social contact may help to challenge the belief that we are incapable of making friends, and our new cognition — ‘I can make friends when I make the effort’ — may cause us to feel better about ourselves. Confronting some of the things we fear — the dreaded social function, the speech or that unpleasant phone call — can lead us to stop perceiving those situations as highly threatening, and our revised cognitions — ‘I can handle it; it’s not so bad’ — help to reduce our anxiety in those situations. Completing some tasks less than perfectly can help us to recognise that things don’t have to be perfect, and this revised belief frees us from unnecessary anxiety. Some casement windows are absolutely beautiful.