Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cognitive Distortion: How Do You See The Events In Your Life?

G'morning Everyone! I realize posts have been far and few between; all I can do is apologize and blame it on my pain. I have to admit, if I thought more positively it would probably help wonders....this is what my post is today; how do our thoughts sabotage and/or make matters worse...Do you ever stop and realize that you had negatives thoughts and words being thrown around your brain without you even realizing it? I do, and I believe many of you do too....it's almost like an automatic coffee maker, it gets set and it does the rest all on it's own....

             WE NEED TO STOP THIS!!

Read on to acquire some skill sets to put a stop to self-sabotaging!

Dr. Aaron T. Beck came up with the definition of cognitive
distortion and cognitive therapy back in the 60's. When he was
working with depressed patients he noticed that the common
denominator were the negative thoughts and conceptions that
seemed to guide their lives.

Dr. Beck termed these cognitions "automatic thoughts" as they
seemed to appear spontaneously. He classified cognitive distortion
into three groups: negative views about the self, negative views
about the world at large and negative views about the future.

By helping patients identify their thought patterns they were able
to think more realistically which lead them to feel better, heal
emotionally and behave more functionally in their environments.
This is how cognitive therapy was born.

As a matter of fact, it is quite possible for all of us to have
negative and unrealistic views at any point in our lives even
without a mood disorder diagnosis. We tend to call this phenomena
"pessimism" in which our mind fails to be objective for a specific
period of time, especially when under stress. Fortunately, this is
short lived for most of us.

Here are the 10 common cognitive distortion states. See which one
you recognize as an "old friend." We have all experienced at least
one and more likely several of them.

The good news is that by bringing them to awareness, we can start
working on them consciously. Always remember the premise that we
are the direct result of what we think of most of the time.

1. All or Nothing.

The characteristic of this distortion is the focus on extremes. You
can recognize this form of thinking if you commonly use "always" or
"never" in your statements; for instance "I never get to go to the
movies" or "I always get yelled at." As an all-or-nothing thinker
you are seeing things bigger and uglier than they really are.

2. Jumping to Conclusions.

These people jump into conclusions before hearing the whole story
or looking at the evidence. Usually their conclusion has a negative
slant; for instance "The party will be boring and nobody will talk
to me, so I won't go" or "She's so smart and beautiful. She won't
like me, so why bother trying to talk to her."

3. Mental Filter.

As the term implies it, these individuals filter information not
based on reality. They take the positive aspects of life for
granted while amplifying the negative events. None of the scenarios
are real; such as a person that believes their whole day is ruined
because of a traffic jam without giving much thought to the
promotion he got last week.

4. Disqualifying the Positive.

For these individuals positive occurrences are just coincidences
or a result of mere luck. They never give positive events the
importance they deserve. On the contrary, a negative episode is
usually seen as something terrible and huge, much worse than it
actually is or could be; for instance "I just won a trip to
Disneyland and know my kids would be thrilled, but I hate the
long lines. I will get sore feet so I won't go."

5. Over Generalization.

These individuals base their future life experiences in isolated
events that they have experienced; such as "I got a headache at
the beach last Sunday, so (my conclusion is) I get headaches at
the beach."

6. Magnification and Minimization.

The emphasis is put on the qualities of other people or events
by exaggerating them to extreme proportions. At the same time,
negative characteristics are minimized or ignored completely.
Uncomfortable situations look like catastrophes to these people;
such as "I got a flat tire, my day is ruined."

7. "Should" Statements.

Self expectations are huge and always self imposed. These people
are not flexible with themselves making their life a stream of
constant stress; for instance "I should have gone to the grocery
store first. I don't have time to go now."

8. Emotional Reasoning.

These individuals let their emotions interfere when making
decisions or getting to conclusions, without allowing themselves
to be reasonable. By becoming emotional they tend to distort
the facts. They end up feeling powerless; they believe unfair
situations "happen" to them. Their emotions won't let them see
events objectively; such as "You made me cry, so you are mean
to me."

9. Personalization.

People who personalize tend to blame either themselves or others
about the events that happen in their lives. When the blame is
self imposed it creates a lot of stress. These individuals are not
objective either; such as "I'm not good enough for you, that is why
you left me."

10. Labeling.

These people are always placing labels on others or on themselves.
These labels are usually inaccurate and have a negative slant to
them; for instance "I'm so stupid" or "She's so pretentious." These
labels are seeing as absolutes. Other qualities or other aspects of
ourselves or of others are ignored. We are all multi-dimensional
beings with both, qualities and defects. Placing labels don't let
us see this.

Often times, this negative thought and cognitive distortion
patterns begin in childhood and can go unnoticed for years. They
become part of who we are quite by habit. This is why becoming
aware is so important. Do you notice any of these distortions
in your internal dialogue?

Becoming aware of our thoughts and behaviors is the first step to
move beyond them and grow. The scientific process to get rid of
these is called "Cognitive Restructuring" and the rewards are not
only empowering but permanent.

Come back tomorrow for the 2nd part of this 2 part series....

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