Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day 10 - Irrational/Distorted/Faulty/Just plain BAD, pt. 1

Today's topic is Cognitive Distortions aka Faulty Beliefs aka Irrational Beliefs aka just plain bad thoughts. :) Have you ever heard of 'em? My guess is, even if you haven't you've probably thought 'em!

Rather than defining these kinds of thoughts I'm gonna go straight to the examples. I think you'll get the point. Think about which ones you find yourself struggling with the most. We ALL think these types of thoughts sometimes! Awareness is the first step in changing them!

Catastrophizing is imagining the worst possible scenarios in a given situation and allowing your thoughts to snowball, creating a lot of anxiety and fear! I've had this problem recently... What I'll do is watch the news and lately we've been having some crazy weather here in the south! So I'll listen to the weather reports and hear all about the snow and ice and how hazardous the roads can be if you're not careful and get totally freaked out! Now the tough part is, there is some truth to my thoughts. The roads are dangerous but the thing is... we all need to be extra careful. And if the weather is bad enough businesses get shut down and we all stay home. I have a tendency to blow things completely out of proportion and imagine all of the worst case scenarios in my mind so I don't even want to leave my house. Not good.

Black & White Thinking:
This is when we think in All or Nothing terms. Things are either Good or Bad, Black or White. There's no middle ground. For example, let's say you were up for a promotion but it ended up going to someone else. You think to yourself, "I'm never going to get promoted now." Never?? Really??

Discounting the Positive:
Discounting is when we disregard anything positive about a given situation and focus only on the negative. For example, a student gets back a writing assignment with comments from the teacher. On the first page the teacher wrote, "Excellent work. Great points!" However, scattered throughout the paper are bits and pieces of constructive criticism so the student can improve his or her writing next time. The student neglects to focus on the overall comments in which the teacher praised the writing and only focuses on the fact that there were suggestions for improvement, which results in disappointment and anxiety about future assignments.

Mind Reading:
Mind Reading is when you make assumptions about what others are thinking based on arbitrary information. For example, let's say you're a mom and you try to schedule a play date with an acquaintance from church. The acquaintance turns you down and seems to be avoiding eye contact. You assume it must have something to do with you or your kids and starting racking your brain trying to figure out if you've ever done anything to upset or offend her. The truth is, she has marriage counseling during the time you suggested and felt uncomfortable because she and her husband have decided to keep it a secret for now.

Do any of these ring a bell so far? More tomorrow!

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