Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stink'n Think'n

There are many ways that our thought processes can doom us to facing the same situations over and over again. It is the distortion of the truth that sometimes keeps us from reaching a positive mental attitude and subsequently happiness. Most of us are guilty of one type of distortion or another. Our thought processes can be altered when we know what to look for and avoid.

I'm not going to tell which of these apply directly to me, but I will say that the migraine disease that I have is not the only problem in my life. The pain can cause me to distort my view of the world and my situation in it. Then I have two problems to deal with; Migraine and depression.

This list of cognitive distortions is not of my own making. I've seen it several places online and I have tried to rephrase each idea to help in understanding Stink'n Think'n.

1. If things to you are black or white, then your thinking may be All-or-Nothing. If you are not able to do something perfectly, you think of yourself as a failure. Nothing is ever black and white and we can fall a little short and still not be a failure.

2. If you see any single event, especially negative, as a never-ending pattern then you are Overgeneralizing. Give things a chance and sooner or later you will receive the outcome you desire.

3.  You may be using a Mental Filter by picking out a single negative detail and focusing on it until your reality becomes diluted. Learn to pick out the positives as well as negatives for a positive attitude.

4.  Don't Disqualify the Positive. Let positive experiences be what they are. You may think they do not count for some reason or another, but don't maintain a defeatist attitude that is contrary to your every day experiences.

5. Sometimes events can be interpreted negatively by Jumping to Conclusions. Even when there are no clear cut facts to support our conclusions. Sometimes we Mind Read others and conclude that they feel negatively about us without finding out for certain. We believe we can tell the future by anticipating a bad outcome. By feeling that the prediction is already an established fact we are committed to  Fortune-Telling.

6. Exaggerating how important things are by magnifying your failure or someone else's achievement, or by shrinking the importance of things till they are insignificant. This Magnification/Minimizing is also called the binocular trick. Looking down the binoculars the wrong way always distorts our view of the scene.

7.  Attributing terrible consequences to the outcome of an event is Catastrophizing and prevents you from ever foreseeing a positive outcome. You feel that the slightest mistake could cost you your job. friends or even marriage.

8.  Feeling that your negative emotions dictate the way things really are. Your Emotional Reasoning is that if you feel it, it must be true. Just because you feel something is right doesn't make it so. Try not to let emotions determine whether things are right or wrong.

9.  Using "Should" statements in order to motivate yourself causing you to feel like you should be punished before expected to do anything. The emotional consequence is guilt when you use "should", "shouldn't", "Must" and "ought". Directing these statements toward yourself or others, makes you feel guilt, anger and frustration.

10.  An extreme form of overgeneralization is referred to as Labeling and Mislabeling. You attach a label to yourself instead of describing any error that you may make. Labeling (and mislabeling) yourself as a "loser" or other negative label as you overgeneralize a single negative event as par for the course.

11. Seeing some negative characteristic of yourself as causing a negative event. Or, taking responsibility for things that were not your doing is Personalization. Everything that happens is not caused by you. Negative things are going to happen to everyone that doesn't mean you made it happen.

12. When you concentrate on a thought that may be true, but does not gain anything by focusing on it, is Maladaptive Thinking. Focusing on some past event will not ever change that event. The past cannot be changed by anything we do in the present and we should not concentrate on those events.

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