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 11 – Irrational/Distorted/Faulty/Just plain BAD, pt. 2

What did you think of yesterday’s post? Did any of those thoughts resonate with you? Again, we all think these kinds of thoughts sometimes. It’s normal! Just because the thoughts are bad doesn’t mean YOU are! However, if we can prevent some unnecessary anxiety by improving our thought processes, we might as well, right?!

So on to more of those pesky beliefs:

Labeling:
Labeling is when we… well, label someone or something because we’re unhappy. For example, a teenage girl wants to stay out late on a date with her boyfriend but her parents say she has to stick to her curfew. She thinks to herself, “My parents are such dictators. I can’t stand them.”

Feelings are Facts:
Contrary to popular belief we do not have to be controlled by our feelings. Often times we think that because we feel a certain way, it’s reality. That is simply not true! Especially for women, this can be a huge struggle sometimes. An example of this is: You’re feeling lonely one weekend because you don’t have plans and you think to yourself “No one likes me. I must have a terrible personality because I have no friends”.

Forecasting:
Forecasting is when we predict that things will turn out badly. For example, you go to the doctor to get a biopsy and, before you get the results, think to yourself “it must be cancer.”

Judging:
Judging is when we are critical and often use such words as should, must, have to etc. For example, after writing a blog you think to yourself “I never should have written that. People are gonna stop following me now!” None of us ever do that right?! :)

Self-Blaming:
This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s when we blame ourselves for things that are not our responsibility. For example, a woman who is married to an alcoholic might think, “It’s all my fault. He wouldn’t drink if I was a better wife.”

Do any of these types of thinking make you go hmm? Don’t stress if you struggle with these! Information is power! Now you know!

What now though? Here is an exercise for you: Write down the 2 you struggle with most on a 3 x 5 card. Tape it to your bathroom mirror to remind yourself not to think like that! You are worth a lot more than your negative self talk leads you to believe! When you find yourself thinking one of those types of thoughts tell yourself “stop” and change your thought around to be something positive.

See you tomorrow!

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