Changing Cognitive Distortions

I discussed Cognitive Distortions a couple of posts ago in Cognitive Distortions. I like to take this post to list some techniques that can help you change those distorted views. Dr. Burns listed plenty of help techniques. I will discuss a couple here. I recommend buying the book to get the full scope of techniques. It is important to remove these distortions from permeating our lives, so that we can move towards healing and living more peacefully.

  • Positive Reframing– Putting your focus on the negative thoughts and difficult emotions one is feeling. Ask yourself these two questions: (1) What are the advantages, or benefits to these type of emotions and thoughts? (2) What do these thoughts and emotions tell me about myself and my values that is wonderful?

Feelings of anxiety can show that an upcoming event is meaningful to you, or that you are doing something outside your comfort zone, which can be something beneficial to you in the long run. Looking at these emotions is a different light can help alleviate the negativity associated with these difficult emotions. You may start to feel better about an upsetting situation.

  • Straightforward Technique-This one is pretty straightforward as the name states, but as straightforward as it is, this can be difficult for most to do. Try to switch your perspective to a more positive, or realistic approach, rather than negative.

Ask yourself questions, Is this negative thought really true? Do I truly believe it? Is there another way to look at it? I absolutely love this technique, and use it all the time. Switching your perspective can make such a difference to your state of mind.

  • Double Standard Technique-Rather than putting yourself down. Try talking to yourself in a way you would talk to a good friend you care about.

It is so much easier to be cruel to ourselves, and lift other up when they are down, but we should learn to show the same kindness to ourselves. When you say negative things to yourself, remind yourself if this is something you would say to a friend who is going through the same thing, or who would say those negative things about themselves.

  • Examine the Evidence-Rather than looking at things in a negative light. Try to look into the facts of what you are saying.

Is what you are saying really true? What are the facts? What does it show? Telling yourself you are a failure. Look up the definition, does that truly describe you. In most cases this would not be the case.

  • Socratic Method-This is when you take a deeper look into what you are saying, and analyze if it is true or not.

If you think you are a failure, or a awful person, or suck at life. Look into what those words really mean. Do you truly fail all the time to be a failure, or have you had some achievements? Are you really awful?, or did you make a mistake, or make one bad decision out of all the great things you do? Does life truly suck, or are you having one bad moment? Is that really relative to you, or is this something that happens to everyone? This method allows you to look into what you are saying, and find insight to the truth of the matter. It showcases our faulty thought patterns.

  • Thinking in Shades of Gray-We usually face problems, because we tend to see things in black and white, but things in life aren’t normally that way.

There are good and bad things about oneself and life. Experiences in life aren’t always great or bad. You are not perfect, and one mistake doesn’t make you a horrible human being. Learning to look at both sides is important.

  • Semantic Method-This method is about looking at the language you use to define life experiences. Instead of saying, “I shouldn’t have made this mistake this,” you can say, “It would have been better if I have not made that mistake.” Instead of saying, I can’t do this, it is too hard” try saying, “It will be hard to do this, but I can try my best. Instead of saying, “I hate how I look,” try saying “I don’t look my best today.” Instead of thinking, “I hate my life,” try thinking, “this moment sucks, but it will pass.”

Finding better wording can allow one space to practice self-kindness and compassion. It is all in how you word things. Wording things in a more compassionate, and positive way can help you move through difficult situations much more smoothly.

  • Let’s Define Terms-This method allows you to actually look at the definition you are labeling yourself.

When you label yourself a loser, failure, foolish, ugly, horrible etc,. Once you look up the actual term for these things. You realize that doesn’t define you. When you actually look up these definitions. You realize how absurd it is to define oneself in those ways.

  • Be Specific-It is important to focus on the specific situation, problem, mistake flaw etc,. It is easy to globalize our problems, mistakes, flaws to other areas. It is just one bad day, one flaw, one mistake. There are plenty of good days, things to appreciate, and strengths to yourself and your life.
  • Self-Monitoring-This method is about keeping tracking of all your negative thoughts, either writing them down when you have them, or put the number of how many negative thoughts came to mind on a watch or phone. This can make you aware of how often you have negative thoughts. Having this awareness cultivates a diminishing of the negative thoughts.

I really like the self-monitoring technique. Awareness is very important to self-improvement and recovery. Having a visual really can open our eyes, and allow us to make changes.

I believe all these techniques above can be beneficial to changing our distorted ways of thinking. It can help cultivate a healthier mindset, and peace of mind. There are plenty more techniques in the book, but wanted to limit it to the ones I liked the best. I recommend the book if you like to know more, but I think these techniques suffice. It is important to be aware of our faulty thought patterns, so we can figure out ways to cope and manage them, so that our lives can be more fulfilled.

Mindful Morning Routine(Plant Care)

My favorite time of the week is my Saturday mornings.This is when I do my plant maintenance. I enjoy taking each plant, water it if it needs it, cleaning, and inspecting them. This time allows me to be mindful, and appreciate the beauty of nature. I don’t have many plants, so it is easy to spend an hour just being present with my plants.

This time is very therapeutic and relaxing. I have just become a plant owner last year, and my skills have improved immensely. It is all about experience, and persistence. I didn’t want to give up, after killing plenty. It is all about learning and growing. I am proud of my improvements.

I really enjoy the scenery and calmness my plants provide. I hope to get more in the future. They provide me much joy, and allow me to be in the moment. Spending an hour tending to my plants really helps start my weekend right. It puts me in a better mood and brings joy, peace, happiness, and fulfillment to my life.

I am writing this, because I like to express the importance of a wonderful mindful morning routine. Whatever you can find that can help bring you to a mindful state as your day starts can be beneficial to how your day goes. How your day starts sets the mood for the rest of the day. It helps put you in better mindset. It gives you the energy you need to go on with your day, and face whatever comes your way. You must first give to yourself, before you can give to others, so it is important to spend the beginning of your day being mindful.I hope you all have a lovely mindful morning. I will post some pictures of my plant babies below.

Self-Care Reminder Post(Lazy Day)

There will be days when you lack the will to be productive, and just want to do nothing. Today was that day for me. My allergies got the best of me this morning, which made me just want to sleep. My mind couldn’t get in a creative flow, and my body was weak. These were signs that I needed to chill and relax today. I felt a bit guilty that I couldn’t write, but quickly recognized that a day of doing nothing is necessary from time to time. Your mind and body need time to recharge from time to time.

Being busy and productive isn’t necessary all the time. The hustle culture is great, but we need space to chill from time to time. If you are not feeling it, and I definitely wasn’t today, than you shouldn’t force yourself to do something. If it is constant, than I get it, you got to get moving, but every once in awhile, you got to give yourself the space to chill. There will be some guilt, but your mind and body will appreciate the day off, and it can help rejuvenate oneself for the next day. In the long run it can be beneficial. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself a day to do nothing if your mind and body tell you to. I truly appreciated this chill day, and in the end I did find something to write about. Now let me get back to watching some Kpop videos haha

Pros and Cons of Complaining

I wanted to write this post, because I recently decided I didn’t want to partake in complaining anymore. I don’t believe it is useful to me, and it permeates negativity. Now there can be some benefits to complaining, which involves venting. There is nothing wrong with expressing our troubles from time to time as long as it is not habitual. I read an article on complaining titled Hidden Benefits and Pitfalls of Complaining (verywellmind). I thought it would be helpful to discuss these benefits and pitfalls.

Pros

Venting is Necessary

Bottling in your thoughts and emotions can take a toll on a person. Sometimes it is necessary to let things out. It can give you relief. It can help you feel heard. When I get to a point when I have to let it out. I always feel much better. It can relieve stress. Letting it all out can finally help you get some answers as well. It can be from the help of the person you are venting to, or maybe now that you found relief. You can move on to figuring out what can be done to help you.

It Provides Validation

Knowing that someone gets it, and that you are not alone can be helpful. Having someone sympathize with you, or agree with you showcases that you have a right to feel and think the way you do, and that something isn’t wrong with you. Complaining to others gives us that validation we need to move forward.

Now this pro can also be a con as well. If you talk to the wrong person who validates complaints that put you in the wrong, or they agree with a distorted point of view. That type of validation can be harmful.

Getting Another Perspective

By complaining to others you may be able to gain some other perspectives on the situation. When we complain, we tend to focus on our perspective, we may see things in black and white terms, or blow the situation out of proportion. Talking to another person may help you see that your perspective may not align with reality. This can help give you new insight to the situation. You may realize things are not as bad as you think, or you shouldn’t really be as angry or upset as you feel.

Finding Solutions

It can be easier finding solutions when you have more people involved. Complaining to others may make it easier for you to find a solution. It can help open you up to others input, and possible solutions you didn’t think of.

Complaining Leads to Action

Sometimes it is important to complain to the right people who can help make changes. I once complained to my bosses about a situation at work. They heard it, and fixed it, problem solved. Sometimes it is that easy. Complaints that are work related, or any situation that is outside your control. It is best to complain to people who can help you. I had coworkers complain to me about work related stuff that can probably be solved by talking to a supervisor or lead. I can’t help them with these problems, so it is useless complaining to me. This is why it is important to complain to the right people. If you do, then things can get done to make things better for you.

Cons

Focusing on the Problem, Not the Solutions

This is a big one when it comes to cons of complaining. Putting your attention on the problem will leave you stuck, feeling hopeless, depressed, angry, and frustrated. You will never be satisfied, and your perspective will only focus on the negative. This type of mindset when it comes to complaining can cultivate misery for an individual.

Pessimism

Constant complaining can lead to a pessimistic outlook. Being a habitual complainer cultivates negativity.

Negative Groups

Misery loves company. Complaining can be contagious. Complainers may gravitate towards others who complain. A complainer may get you going, and get you to complain as well. It may start out as validating each other, but end up turning into an angry mob, or a negativity circle of friends.

Drain on Others

Constant complaining can definitely be a drain on others, and bring others down. People have their own problems. They don’t want to be dragged down by someone else’s problems. We should try to build and lift others up, not bring them down. Constant complaining can push others away from you, leaving you with no support system to help.

I will say this if complaining leaves you feeling worse, gets nothing done, and it is constantly about the same topic. This type of complaining is toxic. It serves no purpose, but to drain you of life, happiness, and peace of mind. Complaining has its good moments from time to time. When you need someone to listen. When there is a solution on the horizon. When you had enough, and need to voice your thoughts.

I am not against complaining if it can help you, or myself in any way. I will only complain if it benefits me, if it doesn’t, I will let it be, and keep moving forward. Sometimes things in life sucks, sometimes things don’t go your way, sometimes people disappoint, that is life. There is no need to wallow in negativity about it. Tell yourself, things may suck now, but there will be plenty of things to brighten your life as well. Life has its good and bad moments. You got to deal with the bad ones, to appreciate and enjoy the good moments.

Source:https://www.verywellmind.com/complaining-why-do-we-do-it-3144857

There Is Always a Story(Judging Others)

We all judge and criticize others. This person is annoying, problematic, crazy, angry, a spoiled brat, entitled, an idiot. But claims like these only touch the surface. We must remember that actions and behaviors of others always has a story behind it. We don’t have to excuse all these behaviors, but we can learn to understand. Empathy and compassion come a long way. Just because someone is outside the “normal,” does not mean they should be disregarded. It may be easy to see things through the perspective glasses of our own, but it doesn’t mean that it is the correct action to take.

Mindful Break Time(Mindfulness Reminder)

I needed a break from the information overload I was getting online. I found this lovely passage in my mi dullness book. I appreciate the awareness I have from mindfulness practice to take mental breaks and be mindful.

It does a great job of clearing my mind, and helps rejuvenate my spirit. I absolutely can’t wait for the nicer weather to be able to enjoy the freshness of the outdoors, and beauty of the natural scenery.

Mindfulness is a wonderful thing. It opens you up to opportunities, new adventures, shifts in thoughts and behavior, and creative power. I now feel refreshed and ready to start my shift.

I think it is important to be aware of when to take breaks. Your mind can only withstand so much. A break may be all you need, even if it is 5 minutes. Sit, take a walk, stretch, write etc,. Mindfulness practice isn’t a quick fix, but it can improve your well-being over time with continuous practice.

Sharpen the Saw

I was reading the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. There is a chapter about sharpening the saw, and it really resonated with me. I found this concept to be similar to mindful time. The story behind this is that there was a competition between a younger and older lumberjack to see who can cut down the most trees. The younger one continued to cut the trees without breaks, while the older one took breaks throughout the day. The older lumberjack ended up winning, despite being older, weaker, and less energetic. The reason is because he took breaks to sharpen his saw. A sharp saw will win over a dull one anytime.

This story and concept show how important it is to take breaks to sharpen the saw, meaning to gain clarity. Constant working leads to exhausting and cloudiness of the mind. You will be much more effective when you give yourself space. I have to say my best ideas comes from taking time to breathe and be mindful. When I am journaling, taking walks, reading, watching inspirational vloggers, or on vacations. It is important to be present, and in the moment, so that your mind can breathe and gain insight. Our minds need breaks. The mind won’t work well with continuous work and overload. You may think it is a good idea to keep going, but doing that just weakens your clarity and creativity.

I am staying indoors today, due to another snow storm, thankfully not as bad as the last one, but I wanted to be productive and mindful today. This is where this idea came from. I didn’t want to waste my only day off for the next 10 days on distractions only. This is where mindful practices come in handy. I did some reading, some yoga, some writing as you can see. I even found going outside to clean my car therapeutic. Most may see it as a chore or annoying, and I do majority of the time as well, but today I didn’t mind going out. I put some music on, and cleaned the snow off, it was kind of nice. The snow is really fluffy, so it came off easy, and it gave me a nice workout. It was nice to just do something, rather than just sitting inside.

I know this topic has become a recurring theme of my posts, but that just means how important this concept is, and how it never gets old to be reminded of it. Breaks are really important, sharpen the mind, like you sharpen the saw. This can only come from giving yourself the space to think and relax. To be in the moment and enjoy life as it is. Work will always be there, but the moment will not.

Cognitive Distortions

After reading Dr. Burns book Feeling Great. It made me realize how much our thoughts and emotions intertwine with each other. Our thoughts can make things uncomfortable and difficult for us. It can allow us to see our emotions in a negative light. As I mentioned before, emotions just are, how we perceive them is what creates problems for us. He mentions the 10 cognitive distortions that cultivates suffering in our lives. Cognitive distortions can affect how we perceive ourselves, other people, emotions, and life situations.

Cognitive distortions cultivates self-hatred. It lowers your self-worth. It aides in painting ourselves, other people, and our world in a negative light. These distortions allow us to beat down on ourselves. It keeps us suffering longer than we need to. I wanted to discuss these distortions. We all have done these, but being aware of these distortions can help you to learn not to fall into these thought patterns continuously.

All or Nothing Thinking

When you’re convinced that you’re either destined for success or doomed to failure, that the people in your life are either angelic or evil, you’re probably engaging in polarized thinking.(healthline.com).

Life and people work in shades of grey. No one is completely one thing, or the other. Life is not one way, or the other. We will fail at times, and succeed at other times. This type of thinking can lead you down a miserable path.

Overgeneralization

When people overgeneralize, they reach a conclusion about one event and then incorrectly apply that conclusion across the board.(healthline.com).

One situation does not define every other situation. One person in a group does not define all people within that group. This type of thinking process can lead to bias and discrimination. It can also allow people to stay within their bubble, and not branch out. Life is unpredictable, things that happen in one situation. Most likely won’t happen in another situation.

Mental filtering

This distorted thought pattern is the tendency to ignore positives and focus exclusively on negatives.(healthline.com).

It is much easier to put the focus on the negative, which leads to suffering and misery. Life is full of positives and negatives. We got to find that balance.

Discounting the positives

Similar to mental filtering. Ignoring the positives, and putting focus on the negatives.

Learning to appreciate the good, positives, accomplishments, and joys of life is important. Try not to ignore what is good in your life. You may think everything is bad, but if you look more deeply, you’ll find the good.

Jumping to conclusions

Jumping to conclusions that aren’t warranted by facts.

  • Mind Reading-You assume you know what others are thinking and feeling.
  • Fortune telling-You make negative predictions about the future.

We all fall into this trap. This type of thinking leads to anxiety, tension, anger and frustration. We make stories about what others are thinking, and what the future will be, but this type of thinking isn’t helpful. We don’t know the future, and we don’t know how others perceive a situation. We should try to put our focus on things we can control, like ourselves.

Magnification or Minimization

Blowing things out of proportion, or shrink their importance significantly. You perceptions allow things to be bigger, or smaller than they really are.

We think something bad that happened is the end of us, our world is over, but most of the time, as time passes, we move on, and cope. Vice versa something may be important, but you blow it off, which can come back to haunt you. It is important to see the reality of the situation.

Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is the false belief that your emotions are the truth — that the way you feel about a situation is a reliable indicator of reality.(healthline.com)

While it’s important to listen to, validate, and express emotion, it’s equally important to judge reality based on rational evidence.(healthline.com).

You feel hopeless, so that means your hopeless. You feel sad, so you conclude you are a miserable person. You feel guilt, so you conclude you are a bad person. Your emotions don’t define who you are. Emotions come and go. They are a part of living, but they are not part of who you are.

Should statements

When people find themselves thinking in terms of what “should” and “ought” to be said or done, it’s possible that a cognitive distortion is at work.

I should be better at this. I should be smarter at this. I should know what I am doing. I should have known. I shouldn’t make mistakes. Humans are imperfect beings. We will not be great at everything. Give yourself a break. We can’t do everything. You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed to not know everything.

Labeling

Labeling is a cognitive distortion in which people reduce themselves or other people to a single — usually negative — characteristic or descriptor, like “drunk” or “failure.”(healthline.com)

You label yourself and others, instead of focusing on the specific problem.(Feeling Great).

We as individuals are a plethora of things. We are not defined by one feature. It is easier to just put a label on yourself and others, but we as individuals are more complex than that. We have many defining features.

Blaming/Personalization

One of the most common errors in thinking is taking things personally when they’re not connected to or caused by you at all.(healthline.com).

You may be engaging in personalization when you blame yourself for circumstances that aren’t your fault, or are beyond your control.(healthline.com).

Self-blame and blaming others is common, but not everything is your fault, and not everything is someone else’s fault. Life happens. Showing compassion for yourself, and others can help you live a more peaceful life. Just because you make a mistake, or do something wrong. Doesn’t mean there needs to be fault. Mistakes are part of being human. If you didn’t mean bad intentions, don’t be too hard on yourself. This also goes with blaming others as well. Recognize when there is truly fault in a situation.

All of these thinking patterns can create uncomfortable emotions and experiences in our lives. It can lead us away from a peaceful state of mind. These are thinking traps we all fall into, but being aware of them can steer you away from falling into these thinking patterns much less.

Sources: Burns, D. D. (2020). Feeling Great: The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety. PESI Publishing & Media.

https://www.healthline.com/health/cognitive-distortions

Detach From Thoughts & Emotions

You may think, how can I do this? Isn’t these things part of who I am? Thoughts and emotions are part of our life experiences. They don’t necessarily define who we are.

As taught in spiritual teachings. Attachment creates suffering. Detachment cultivates peace. It is our human nature to attach.

Our souls are boundless, timeless, and limitless. Emotions and thoughts are part of humanity. They are not who we are. They do not define us. It is best to observe our thoughts and emotions.

Tell yourself, I am thinking this thought, or I am feeling this emotion. Be aware and observe. These things are a part of the human experience. They can be difficult at times. They can also be enjoyable.

Just remember that observing creates peace of mind. Attaching to them creates suffering. A thought is a thought. An emotion is an emotion. They just are. Giving them less power creates freedom and peace.