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

Coping Through Uncertain/Difficult Times

Plans, vacations, appointments, schedules are all postponed, cancelled, or uncertain. Some are facing job losses, and financial instability. These times are difficult for everyone in one way, or another. It is hard to stay positive and calm all the time. Lots of thoughts may overwhelm you with all this uncertainty. With all of this, we must figure out ways to manage and cope. It is either that, or self-destruct, and fall into depression and despair. You, nor I, want that. I wanted to write down a list of ways that can help one cope through these tough times. So how do we cope?

Do what you can control:There are many things we can’t control about this situation, but all is not lost. There are also many things you can do. Things are not black or white, or all or nothing. There is grey area to work with. If you lost a job, maybe find ways to fill out resumes, and do job searches. I am sure there are plenty of places hiring, maybe some people you know may have some ideas, ask around. If you can’t go to the gym, do some home workouts, or do some exercises outdoors. If you can’t meet with friends, call them, or virtually hang out with them. There are things that you can do in this situation. It is all about working with what you got.

Find little joys&happiness:I just went for a walk Saturday. I also did some fun kpop reviews on my other blog. I really enjoyed doing this, and it made the weekend exciting. I was also excited to try these frozen fruits I bought yesterday. Finding little things like this that bring you joy is important through these times that may make you perceive the world negatively. Finding the little things that can make you happy can bring some excitement back to your life.

Take deep breaths/meditate:Whenever my thoughts overwhelm me. There can be times when all my thoughts about this uncertainty overwhelm my mind. I use the technique of taking deep breaths. This helps calm my thoughts. If you like to dig deeper. Closing your eyes, and doing some meditation can help calm your thoughts, and bring some clarity to the uncertainty.

Find Inspiration/Guidance: Looking for others for a different perspective, and outlook on life can be helpful. If I feel a bit down, I like to read my mindfulness books, and watch my favorite inspirational Youtube channels to guide me back to a more positive mindset. Doing this allows you to see things from a different perspective, and view things from a different light that you may not have thought of, or maybe just needing the reminder.

Express gratitude:We tend to put our focus on the negative. Try to take some time to write down 5 things you are grateful for. This could show you there are some good things going on in your life, and that not everything is bad. This could bring a bit of positivity back into your life.

Be productive/creative:This gives you a sense of accomplishment and achievement. It may be hard to do some things in these times, but there are plenty of creative, and productive things one can do to counteract the uncertainty, and difficulty of these times. It may even bring you joy after accomplishing these things.

Be kind to yourself:Remind yourself that it is okay to feel sad, anxious, lazy, lonely etc,… through this. These emotions are normal. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling this way. Show compassion and empathy for oneself.

Avoid News-The news likes to catastrophize, they like to show things that will shock their viewers. They rarely posts good news, because that isn’t what grabs attention. They tend to make things seem worse, than it is. Sometimes it is best to keep your distance from it. Be informed, but try not to consistently check up on it.

Talk to others/journal:Letting your concerns out to the world is very therapeutic. Try to use these outlets to help you cope. I always feel better writing my concerns down on paper, or talking to someone about it. Releasing it out, and not bottling it in can be very helpful.

Reflect on past coping skills: I saw this in one article I was reading for my research on this topic. I really liked this one. Delve into the past, and reflect on what you did in the past to help you cope through these times. We all been through something in the past, but you got through it obviously, what was it?, and can you apply it now? I like this one. This can help build your coping skills strength.

Take mindful breaks:I was on the computer yesterday, and I was getting overwhelmed with all the information being thrown at me. I was starting to feel lethargic and down. I decided to take a mindful break, and I felt so refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed once I did it. Being with your thoughts. You are able to find clarity, which then can help you problem-solve, and figure things out. Too much information being thrown at you can get overwhelming. It can also make it hard to confront your thoughts and concerns about life, so you may not be able to find clarity, and figure things out. A mindful break may be needed to gain perspective. It also allows you to live in the moment, and truly live. One is truly living when they are aware of the moment.

Accept:Last coping strategy, but certainty not least. These times make one aware that life is uncertain, unpredictable, and reminds you that losses will happen in life. Use this situation as lessons for the future. Uncertainty and difficulty will happen again. It is a natural part of life. Security, safety, and stability are not certain in this life. Situations like these helps bring us back to reality, and away from our perceived safety net of stability. Also, things can be much worse. Just think about all those movies & books about pandemics, or past diseases and viruses that killed many more people. See the reality of the situation, and keep moving forward.

We are all dealing with some type of difficulty, or struggle, but that is something we deal with daily, not just through this pandemic. That is life. There are good. There are positives as well. I hope these strategies can be helpful in some way. We just got to keep hanging on. Work through it. Keep moving forward. We will get through this, like the many other struggles we have gone through in the past. I hope you all have a lovely week.

Depression & Anxiety With Mindfulness

Depression and Anxiety are prevalent in this stressful, and difficult world we live in. Millions of people deal with these disorders daily. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Therapy have been implemented to help with these disorders. Mindfulness in therapy is fairly new, but studies have shown they have helped reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. There still needs to be more research, since it is still new to the world of therapy.

I will say from my experience, mindfulness has been a helpful tool for my symptoms. We are all different, so I won’t say it works for everyone, but I do think my five points of mindfulness can help guide an individual to help manage the symptoms of these disorders. I have discussed my five points of mindfulness before. I like to discuss how I think these points can be helpful. Depression and anxiety can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be alleviated, so they don’t control your life.

Mindfulness Five Points:

Focus:

This is about being present minded. I have consistently mentioned if you stay stuck in the past, it can lead to sadness, guilt, shame, which can lead to depression. And if you are looking forward, it can lead to apprehension, tension, stress, which can lead to anxiety. Being in the moment can pull you away from these negative thoughts and feelings. It reduces the tension and sadness by just being present. If one stays stuck in the past and keeps looking forward. The negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions will grow and intensify. This is why focusing on the moment is important for our peace of mind.

Awareness:

Awareness is very important in the world of mindfulness. Awareness of your anxiety, and depression symptoms can go a long way. Acknowledging how you are feeling opens up the door to the other 3 steps. It is a relief to acknowledge the feelings and emotions that one has. “I feel anxious.”” I feel sad.” “I feel lonely.” “I feel shame.” “I feel tense.”I feel fear.” Acknowledge how you are feeling. Now remember to put emphasis on “I feel,” instead of “I am.” Saying “I am,” you are defining yourself as these emotions. “I feel” is just defining how you feel at the moment. There is a bit of separation between you and the emotion. I think that is important to distinguish. It also helps not to be critical of oneself when having these feelings.

Understanding:

Here you get to dig in, and figure out why you are feeling the way you do. Why am I fearful? Why do I feel lonely? Why am I tense? Why am I sad? It is important to ask these questions. It is important to ask the right type of questions. “Why me” questions, or “why is life unfair” questions don’t really answer anything, and it creates more negative thoughts, emotions, and feelings. It is better to ask questions you can find answers to. Questions that can help improve your self and your situation. You need questions you can learn from. Learning why you feel the way you do, and why you have these thoughts can create some relief. You now start to realize the reasoning behind these thoughts and feelings.

Perspective:

Here you start to realize that most of your thoughts are negative. When it comes to depression and anxiety, thoughts are mostly negative. There isn’t much realistic, or positive thoughts flowing around. This is where you challenge your negative thoughts. Depression and anxiety come from a place of negativity. Here you flip that switch, and try to see things from a more realistic, or even positive point of view. Maybe this is teaching me a lesson? Maybe this is showing how strong I am? Maybe this is helping me to become a better person? Am I really as lonely as I think? Is my life really over? Is there nothing I can really do? It is all about perspective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy really puts this step into use with their treatment.

Acceptance:

We try to push away the symptoms, but acceptance of the symptoms and the disorder is important for one to get through the difficult time. Normalizing it allows the individual to focus on figuring out how to cope and manage the disorder, instead of trying to fight it, and create a world of negative self-talk, and negative thoughts in general. Learning that it is okay, and human to have these feelings, and thoughts can help aid the healing process. Remind yourself, it is okay to feel sad, lonely, lazy, tense, depressed, anxious etc,. can go a long way to a smoother healing process.

The important thing is to confront the disorder, and all the keys will fall into place. Pushing yourself to be happy, and perfect can cause more distress. One should allow these feeling to just be. Now mastering these steps takes time. It won’t happen overnight, but every little step to recovery helps.

Embracing the Blues

I have been feeling down this past week, so I thought a post about embracing down times would be appropriate. I was inspired to write this, while I was feeling down. The wonderful thing about down, challenging, and tough times. It can invoke inspiration and creativity.

Today may not be a good day. You may not feel positive, happy, talkative, or in a good mood to entertain others. There will be days like that.

Life has its ups and downs. These times are the downs. It is okay to feel this way. It is life. Don’t feel guilty for being sad, or down. You don’t always have to be happy.

Just try not to let the negativity consume you. That can lead down a dangerous path. Just go with the motions, and remind yourself that things will get better. You will move past this, like the many other times. Immerse, and keep moving.

You can try to do things that bring you joy, or comfort. You can also look into the specific thing, or things that are bringing you down. Write them down. Look at the specific problem, or problems. Become aware. See if you can solve what is bothering, if there is an answer to the problem, or is there another way to look at the issue. Take a different perspective. It can help to understand, and accept what is bothering you.

Embracing sadness is healthy. The problem is when it lingers. When the negativity is persistent. Occasional sad times is perfectly normal. Life isn’t perfect, and neither are you. It is okay. There is nothing wrong with feeling down.

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Acceptance of the Entropy of Life

We are taught nothing should go wrong. That life is safe and comfortable. That life should be a smooth ride. But this mindset creates problems. It doesn’t align with reality.

The truth is when one avoids the reality that things won’t always go the way you want, or when one attaches to impertinent things(people, objects, money, success etc…) it creates misery, sadness, and suffering. It is hard to avoid it, because humans need to attach, and feel safe.

This may sound counter intuitive, but to find peace of mind. We must learn to accept that life is imperfect, unstable, and unpredictable. Acceptance of the entropy of life ironically leads to less suffering and pain.

We are programmed to believe life can be perfect, life has to be good to us, we are owed things in life, but that point of view creates negativity. That is just not how life works. Our human brains can’t handle complexity, which is why humans love simplicity, but the problem is reality is never smooth, and perfect.

It isn’t ideal. No one wants disorder, but it is reality, and there is no avoiding it. Avoiding is something one should not do if they want to maintain happiness, and peace of mind. Face it, and accept the unpredictability. Once you are able to do so, difficult situations in life will be much easier to handle.

Acceptance of Impertinence

We as human have difficulty dealing with impertinence, but not being able to cope with it can create discomfort in our lives. We must learn that everything ends, and nothing stays the same. Accepting impertinence is the ability to accept change, and loss in our lives.

The human need to find permanence is an opportunity for suffering to arise. Humans fight change and loss. We do whatever we can to avoid it to protect ourselves, and keep us in a safe bubble. Doing this is quite paradoxical, because even though you may think you are protecting yourself. You are hurting yourself more, and creating more suffering by avoiding the inevitable.

Change and loss are reality. There is no avoiding it, but a mindfulness mindset can help you cope with it. The best thing you can do is accept it. Many people see it as having a negative mindset, but avoiding the reality creates a negative mindset. Accepting reality creates a positive mindset, because when the inevitable happens. You will be able to handle it better, and bounce back quicker. You may even be able to see the bright side in the situation.

This is all part of being mindful. Acceptance of difficult situations is key to our peace of mind and happiness. Permanence is not reality. Once you are aware, understand, and accept it. Peace of mind will follow.

Food for Thought Post

The ego will find a way to trap the mind in a bubble of negativity and misery. It is easy to fall into the trap. Awareness of our surroundings can help center us back to the moment. Always strive to be in the present. It is not an easy task, but it is very beneficial for our well-being, peace of mind, and sanity to try. Living life to the fullest is being present in the moment.

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Find the Calm

Reminder to try not to force, or rush things in life. Be mindful and try to be present. Forcing things just cultivates stress, misery, sadness, and many other negative emotions. Things won’t come into place stressing about things. It can only happen with a calm mind, and being present. Remember, things can only get done in the moment. The past has passed, and the future has not happened. The moment is yours to take action.

Things don’t always happen when you may want it to happen, or as fast as you like. Don’t get down on yourself if things are not happening as you may like. The only thing you can do is try, and go with the motions.

Just remember to relax. Give yourself a break. Don’t work yourself too hard. Life is too short to live it miserable and stressed. Do things that can bring you happiness, and calm you. Rushing throughout the day isn’t always the best thing for your peace of mind. Trying to force things into place will only upset, and anger oneself. Just allow things to flow, and learn to enjoy life. I hope you all have a mindful, relaxing, and enjoyable day!

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Five Points to Mindfulness

 

  • Focus-Pay attention to the present moment.
  • AwarenessBe aware of your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • UnderstandingLearn the meaning behind your thoughts, emotions, and actions.
  • PerspectiveChanging the negative mindset into a more realistic or positive mindset.
  • Acceptance-Learning to accept yourself, and life the way it is. Taking the good and the bad.

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Keep Negative Emotions From Consuming Your Life

With Mindfulness practice, you can learn not to let negative emotions consume you. Anger, fear, sadness, greed, jealousy, envy, anxiety, loneliness are just a few of the many negative emotions an individual has in their lifetime. We can not stop from feeling these emotions, but we can learn to control how much they affect us. You will get sad, annoyed, upset etc., but it is about how much you let those emotions build to where it causes distress and misery.

      Whenever you feel any of these emotions. Take a step back, sit with the emotion, accept what you are feeling, and remember the emotions will eventually fade. The first step is to become aware of the emotions you are feeling. Awareness is important. After becoming aware. Identify what is upsetting you. You should try not to attach any positive, or negative emotions to the feelings. Try to look at the situation in a non judgmental way. When you are able to do that. You will be able to see the reality of the situation.

     We tend to attach negative thoughts to these feelings, which creates more negativity, misery, discomfort etc,. We also react, rather that stepping back, which can lead to guilt and regret, and that creates more tension. It is all about controlling how much these emotions affect you. You may not have the power to stop these emotions from happening, but a mindful approach can help you stabilize the emotions where it doesn’t get out of hand.

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