Day 20 – To sum it all up…

Down to the wire folks! Here’s a summary of what’s been covered in the Healthy Thinking series. We’ve gone over a lot and I hope everyone has been able to pull out to least a few tips to apply to your lives.

via

 

Here goes:

1) Learn your ABC’s. What does this mean? Well, when a situation occurs and you feel your emotions sky-rocketed, think back to what just took place and identify the following:

  • A) Activitating Event: What was the situation? Describe it either on paper or in your mind.
  • B) Behavior: What did you do?
  • C) Consequences: What did you think and feel as a result?

See Day 2, Day 3,  Day 5 and Day 6 to review this concept.

2) Begin to recognize your Automatic Thoughts vs. Core Beliefs.

  • Automatic Thoughts: These are repetitive thoughts that pop into our minds all throughout the day. They can be either positive or negative and are essentially are knee-jerk reactions to whatever is going on.
  • Core Beliefs: These are deeply engrained, inflexible beliefs we have been holding onto since childhood. These are much harder to change and greatly influence everything we do.

See Day 7, Day 8,  Day 9 and Day 17 to review this concept.

3) Our thoughts have a massive impact on our struggles with anxiety, depression and anger. By understanding our thought processes we can gain a better handle on these other concerns.

4) It’s not always about us! Often times we personalize situations and make assumptions that other people’s problems are somehow related to us. Let their issues be their issues! If you think they have a problem with you, ask them. If they say no, move on! Don’t stew about it because eventually you will become resentful.

See Day 4 for more on personalization.

5) Be your own best friend.If you can’t accept yourself how will you ever expect others to? We are all a work-in-progress so cut yourself some slack for cryin’ out loud! :)

See Day 10 and Day 11 for more on self-acceptance.

See you tomorrow for the last day of the series!

Day 6 – Taking a closer look…

We’ve covered a lot of information in just five days. I hope it’s been helpful. Today we’re going zoom in on the thoughts we’ve already gone over and take a closer look at what went wrong. Research shows that thinking happier, healthier thoughts makes a difference in our overall well-being. But it’s a lot easier said than done. If you’re absolutely furious about something or in the midst of a panic attack and just casually tell yourself to think of something happy, it’s going to be quite difficult, if not impossible. But, if you can get a handle on the types of thoughts you’re prone to thinking and understand how they relate to your intense emotions, you will begin to gain control. As with most things, this is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but by practicing, you’ll notice your anxiety, anger, intense emotions etc. begin to decrease in difficult situations.

Think back to the last time your emotions got out of control (whether mildly or severely). Did you record your ABCs? If not, just think back to what they were…

A) What happened?

B) What did you think?

C) What did you feel/do?

via

Let’s focus on (B), since this is a series on Healthier Thinking and all… Now that you know the thought(s) that went through your head, we’re going to examine them. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Can you prove that your thought was 100% true?

2) Was it extreme in any way (i.e. did it include such words as “always,” “never,” “all,” “nothing” etc.)?

3) Were your thoughts perpetuated by how you felt at the time?

4) Was your thought logical?

5) Is there any evidence that exists that does not support what you thought?

Those are just a few to get you started. This may seem tedious but it will be really difficult to gain control of your thoughts if you don’t take a closer look and begin to understand what really happened.

After you do that, the next step is to:

Think of an alternative to the unhealthy thought.

  • Is there something more accurate you could think?
  • If your friend was describing a thought like this, what would you say to him/her?
  • When you are not in the situation that prompted the thought, what might you normally think?
  • If your thought was extreme, is there something more balanced to consider?
  • Thinking back on the past, was there a time when a similar situation was handled differently? What can you gain from that memory?

Now that you have an alternative, how do you feel? Has the intensity of your emotions decreased at all?

Okay… I think that’s enough. Are you sick of ABCs by now? :) Well, I can’t guarantee we’re completely finished with them but we will move on a bit tomorrow. See you then!

Day 5 – Bad is not always… well, bad

Today we’re going to address that other negative thinking pattern I mentioned Friday… the one that’s worthy of an entire day all to itself… Here it is:  

Although it may not feel like it sometimes, even the seemingly intolerable is actually tolerable.

via

Let’s dig into this a bit:

For the conflict-avoiders out there, the idea of having someone mad at you feels like the worst thing ever. At the slightest sign that tension may be brewing, you immediately imagine the worst case scenario in your mind. What if we never make up? What if he breaks up with me? What if my boss never respects me again or even worse, keeps me from being promoted? If a friend is mad at you, you might think “oh no, she’s going to tell people and everyone is going to be mad at me” etc. The idea of being in conflict with anyone just feels awful.

So you end up behaving in such a way, that you do everything in your power to avoid conflict. You become a “yes man” (or woman). You lose your sense of self trying not to offend anyone. You get taken advantage of at times because you always put your own needs aside to meet the needs of everyone else. You even become resentful because it seems like no one ever cares how you feel or what you want. While the idea of conflict feels terrible the truth is, the outcome of avoiding it, can be even worse.

To put the above in ABC terms, it looks like this:

A – You’re in a conversation with someone and begin to express your point-of-view. You see that the person you’re talking to doesn’t necessarily agree and temperatures begin to rise.

B – You think to yourself “Oh no, he seems really mad. I am probably wrong anyway. What am I doing”?

C – You start to get anxious because his face is getting red and he’s pacing back and forth. You decide to cave and tell him he’s probably right. You’re not really sure anyway. It’s not a big deal. “Phew, we’re back on good terms.”

What is comes down to essentially is a low pain tolerance, only the pain is emotional instead of physical. The idea of experiencing:

* Weirdness * Discomfort * Tension * Awkwardness * A fight * The cold shoulder * etc. feels unbearable.

So how do you overcome this:

1) Push yourself to do what makes you uncomfortable. Like I mentioned in the last post, there’s a lot of good that can come out of difficult situations, like conflict. Even though while it’s being experienced, it feel simply terrible. You feel alone and sometimes doubt that you did/said the right things. But, once you work through it, your relationships can grow stronger through that difficult experience. To always avoid, keeps things on a shallow level.

2) Think back on hard times that have passed and remind yourself how you survived. Did God show up in and comfort you in unique ways? Did a friend emerge who could totally relate to your experience? Were you able to utilize your own personal resources to find a way through the situation?

3) Be careful what you think. If you tell yourself that whatever you’re dealing with is absolutely unbearable, you’re going to continue believing it. If you tell yourself you can get through it, you can. It may not be easy still. You may struggle though it, but you will survive and you’ll be stronger for it.

Finally, on a personal note… I experienced one of the worst tragedies I could have ever imagined this year when I lost my mother-in-law to an unexpected heart attack. She was a rock for my husband’s family and gift to everyone she met. The thought of losing anyone I loved seemed unbearable to me, but especially someone I loved and respected as much as her. But then, the unbearable happened. Yet I am still here, fully functioning and believe it or not, still living each day with joy and purpose. My husband and I have talked about how weird it is to realize that life has continued on and we are still happy despite this loss. We never would have thought it was possible.

You can tolerate what you think is intolerable. But, what you think plays a big part in how you feel and how you act. So think like a survivor.

See you tomorrow!

Day 4 – You are not the center of the universe!

There are a couple other errors in thinking that are worth spending extra time on. So I am going to spend an entire day of the series on each. I did not talk about them in the anxiety series so don’t tune out!! :)

Today’s topic is about personalization. Essentially, it’s when we interpret events that occur as having a direct relation to us, even when they have nothing to do with us at all.

So for example…

Your boss is having a bad day and seems to be avoiding contact with people. You ask her a question at one point and she snaps back at you. You assume her mood must be about you somehow… did you offend her? Did you mess up on your most recent work project? You feel guilty and ashamed because you just know you must have done something wrong.

-or-

Your husband tells you he is stressed out and nothing you say is making him feel any better. You feel guilty because you can’t cheer him up. You think to yourself “If I was a good wife, I would be able to help in some way. I am letting him down.”

In both of the above examples, the situation has nothing to do with you! Let me repeat: nothing to do with you! You may feel like it for some reason but that doesn’t make it true. Each person is having their own isolated experiences in these instances and you have nothing to do with either. And yet, sometimes, and we all do this, we make assumptions that we are somehow at fault for what other people are dealing with.

So how do we change this?

1) We need to realize that there could be another side to the story.

Is it possible that your boss’ bad mood has to do with the big budget meeting she had that morning? Or, maybe you had heard that she and her husband are going through a rough patch in their marriage and perhaps they just got in a fight. There are many possible explanations when people are in bad moods or stressed out and unless you can think of a clear-cut reason that they may be upset with you, it most likely has nothing to do with you at all.

2) Even if it is about us, so what?!

I don’t say this to be insensitive or to act like offending others is not a big deal. However, many of us who fall into this negative thinking trap, do not like conflict. In fact, we avoid it at all costs. So, the very thought that someone’s behavior towards us is anything less than “normal” brings up a lot of fear… the fear that they may not like us or we may be as close as we used to be or we may be in a fight now etc. This is incredibly scary for the conflict-avoider!! So rather than simply approaching the person and attempting to resolve the issue, we internalize the guilt, fear etc. and sit in those negative emotions. This can feel like absolute torture!

So, back to the original question: Even if it is about us, so what? When two people get in a fight, it is in fact possible to make up! And even come out of the fight, closer than ever. Think of a marriage; I don’t know a single married couple that doesn’t fight sometimes. Fighting indicates a level of relationship where two people are close enough to reveal themselves completely, even if it means conflict. This is incredibly important in fostering genuine closeness and even longevity in relationships.

So let’s recap this week.

A) An Activating Event occurs
B) A Belief (a thought) crosses our minds
c) There is a Consequence

 

Our thoughts most likely fall into one of the Faulty Belief categories discussed either yesterday or today. We’ll go over another one on Monday as well.

Keep practing your ABCs! See you Monday!

Day 3 – Bumps in the road…

You began to learn your ABC’s yesterday which is great! Becoming aware of the sequence of events that occurs when your emotions get out of hand is the first step. Keep practicing “coaching yourself” and becoming more and more aware of what takes place in those situations! Each of these posts will build on one another. They are not meant to be isolated but rather are designed specifically to be read in this order,  slowly but surely increasing your knowledge and self-awareness. It takes dedication to read these and courage to implement what you read, so I am proud of you!

For those of you who read my anxiety series, today’s content is going to be review (Day 10 & Day 11 from anxiety series). For the newbies out there this may be brand new information. Either way, as you read through this post, think of times you have fallen into some of the following traps. These are common thinking patterns and nothing to be ashamed of… however, they are important to note and grab hold of so that you are no longer controlled by unhealthy thoughts.

After that long introduction… today’s topic is Cognitive Distortions (aka Faulty Beliefs). There are a variety of thinking pitfalls we all fall into that can really mess us up emotionally. See you if you can relate to any of these:

Making Demands:

Must, Ought, Should, Has to, Need, Have to…
“I must have the approval of everyone I know.”
“People should always treat me fairly.”
“I need to do well all the time.”

Catastrophizing:
Assuming the worst from a relatively minor situation.
Your husband says he’ll be home from work by 5:30pm. By 5:35pm, he hasn’t shown up yet and you start to get worried. By 5:40pm, you start wondering if he got in a car accident and by 5:45pm your heart is racing and you’re near tears.

All-or-nothing/Black & White Thinking:
There is no middle ground, just one extreme or another.
Either someone is completely to blame or responsibility-free in the situation.
Let’s say you’re on a diet during Girl Scout Cookie season. You get offered a Thin Mint and try to resist but end up eating one. You’re so upset that you just think to yourself “screw it” and eat the rest of the sleeve.

Forecasting:
You’ve been feeling down lately and are in a bit of a “funk.” Friday night rolls around and you get invited to a party with some coworkers. You think to yourselfThis is probably going to be lame. I barely know these people. I doubt it will be any fun” and decide to just stay home alone, which adds to your depressed mood.

Mind-Reading:
Making assumptions about what others are thinking.
You’re having a conversation with someone and they aren’t maintaining eye contact. They even yawn once. You figure they must be bored out of their mind and you discontinue the conversation immediately.

If you’re interested in reading a few more examples be sure to check out Day 10 & Day 11 from the anxiety series.

Let’s put a few things together. Yesterday’s ABC’s are:
  1. An activating event takes place.
  2. A thought runs through your head (perhaps one of the ones described today)
  3. An emotion or behavior results.

As you are either writing down or just thinking about when these situations occur in your life, get even more specific from now on regarding the category of thought that crossed your mind. Was it an “all or nothing/black or white” thought? Did you catastrophize a bit or attempt to read someone’s mind? Etc.

Keep working at this stuff. You really can get a handle on your thoughts, I promise!

See you soon!

 

 

Day 2 – Your ABCs

As I have hammered into your head on a number of occasions (and will continue to do in future posts) there is a connection between the thoughts in our head and the feelings that emerge as a result. This is easy for me to write, especially as I have done so many times by now! But it’s much harder to really understand on a deeper level. You must make this connection for yourself and it has to happen experientially.

I’ll give you an example of when a realization like this might occur. You and your spouse get in a fight. You believe that he has treated you in a rude way. You think to yourself “Ugh, he makes me so mad!” You begin to give him the cold shoulder and intentionally stay upstairs for the evening, while he remains downstairs watching TV. You begin to sulk and think to yourself how unfair it is that he is enjoynig himself and watching his favorite shows while you are bored and alone in your room. He just makes you feel horrible sometimes! (By the way, I have never had this experience… Oh wait…)

One of the things we are going to try to accomplish throughout this series is to develop a new perspective on situations like the one just described. Rather than blaming someone else for your anger, sulking, boredom and all-around bad night, perhaps there is a way to actually feel okay, despite the fact that you’re dealing with a situation that seems to be anything but okay. More on that later though.

We’re still at the beginning. Actually identifying yourself when the thought-feeling connection is playing out in your life. So, first thing’s first; you need to learn your ABCs.



A – Activating Event
This is the external situation. The fight, for example, between you and your spouse. It could also even be the anticipation of an event (i.e. a phobic person’s anticipation of flying) or even simply a memory or image in your mind (perhaps a past event that created strong emotions).

B – Beliefs
These are your perspectives on the world, views of yourself and views of others. These play a hige part in hor you react to the activating event.

C – Consequences
These are the emotions, physical sensations (i.e. symptoms of panic) and/or behaviors that result from the activating event and your personal beliefs.

So here is your first “assignment”. You can do this formally on paper or you can just give it some thought. What I encourage you to do is be your own coach and really begin to understand the ABCs.

If you decide to do this formally, it would look something like this:

1) Get some 3 x 5 cards or a small notebook that you can carry around with you.

2) Write the date and list out:
A: activating event –
B: belief –
C: consequences –

3) If you find yourself feeling emotional throughout the day, stop! Pull out the paper and think about what took place when your emotions started heating up.

A – What kind of situation were you in? Did you get in an argument with someone? Were you facing a deadline at work?
Or did you start thinking about something negative or scary? Are you anticipating a big speaking engagement or assignment that’s due soon?

B – What thoughts did you have regarding the situation? Were you thinking “Gosh, this person is irritating” or “I’m never gonna get this finished!” or “I hope I don’t screw this up!” etc.

C – What feelings or behaviors ensued?

This is the first step in gaining control of your thoughts! Practice, practice, practice! We’ll get into more details later.

See you tomorrow!

Follow Me!
Get every new post delivered to your inbox!

Join other followers

Powered By WPFruits.com