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.

Dealing With Stress(My Personal Story)

We all deal with stress in different. I deal with it by being distracted and mindless. Yesterday I was stressed with lots of things on my mind. Now the best way to clear one’s mind is by being mindful, but as a flawed human being I tend to be programmed to distract and escape.

I filled my day with distractions and mindlessness by scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter a disgusting amount of times. I also watched mindless things on Youtube to escape from my own struggles. I also tried to find answers online to the things that I was stressing about.

None of these things helped. It just exacerbated the problem. It also put me in a negative place. I mean, I know all this, but I still fall into this trap when I am stressed. Stress is definitely the biggest trigger to be mindless for me. For some reason it is hard for me to be mindful when I am stressed.

Anyway, it got to a point where enough is enough. I just couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. I knew none of this was helping, and that I had to pull away and be mindful. I closed the computer, sat for a bit and tried to meditate. I could only do that for a couple of minutes. I decided to journal, and after that listen to some music. After doing all these things I started to feel more relaxed and calm. This isn’t a surprise, I know mindfulness is the answer to calm stress. Being mindless and finding distractions is the habit of being an imperfect human. It is just easy to find distractions, so I continue to follow that path at times.

The important thing is to be aware of when to finally pull away. That awareness will set you free, and allow you to truly find peace. I was also able to get some more reading done as well. I am already almost halfway through one of my books I bought this month.

I decided today I will not go on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter today. I just had too much of them yesterday. I need to be cleansed from them today. I will use Youtube only to watch inspirational things, or things that instill knowledge, also plant related stuff. I will most likely do more reading, before heading into work. I am so happy to get back to work. I can’t deal with being home this much. I am so looking forward to the warmer weather, so I can be out and about.

Anyway, after being mindful I realized the things I was stressing about wasn’t as big of a deal as my mind made it out to be. You get a sense of clarity and reality when practicing mindfulness. I tell myself I will get through it, like the many other times I got through a stressful event. The storm will pass.

I wanted to write this to show you even though you practice mindfulness for years, and are an aware individual. You will have your setbacks, but you will always bounce back much quicker. That is the beauty of mindfulness practice.

A Society of Overstimulation

It just seems more and more difficult to focus, and to do the things that need to be done, be it for work, or for our own self-fulfillment. The digital/technological age has made it hard for us to just focus on one thing. I sometimes find it hard to sit through a 20 minute Youtube video without looking for something else to stimulate my brain.

It has become increasingly hard for us to do the tasks that need to be done, or to just simply sit and be alone, read, mediate, exercise, be creative. We just rather scroll, and watch videos or movies. It is just so much easier to do so. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to do these things. The things that can be beneficial for our mental and physical health takes work, so people tend to choose the latter.

Getting ourselves to focus is hard. Getting ourselves to get motivated and take action takes work. Getting myself to continue writing my book takes work, but I continue to remind myself, or be reminded that the end goal is most important. It doesn’t matter how small the step is, just do something.

I have found reading to be quite easy and pleasurable to do recently. I wanted to read, but never took the steps to read, until recently. Now that I am reading more. I want to read more. So the time I use to scroll. I use to do something more meaningful for myself, which is read. The power to scroll loses its appeal. It is all about learning to build these habits, even starting small makes a difference.

I was just watching a video of how overstimulation is ruining our lives, and it prompt me to write this. I mean, we all know it isn’t good for us to be on social media, watch TV, procrastinate, and do nothing that helps us grow, but we still do it, because it is easy, why not? The things we want in life takes work, and who wants to do that!? No one does, but it has to be done, if you want improvement in your life, if you want inner peace, or if you want to reach your goals.

Overstimulation is ubiquitous in our lives. Doing one task has become incredibly difficult. Enjoying the simple things have become incredibly difficult. People need their quick dopamine fix. Searching for the next thing to entertain them, rather than finding things on their own to entertain themselves. With the likes of Tik Tok(I believe to be the worse SNS platform) that has made it possible.

I fall for this trap, so I am not hear to preach to you all. I am part of this need for overstimulation. It is ingrained in us. I have a TV, computer, Alexa, and phone in my room. So I am surrounded by over stimulating objects. I do try to use one at a time, and be intentional with how I use them to the best I can.

I now have my phone behind me, out of sight for now. I think it is best when working on a task, or doing something mindful that you keep your phone out of sight. It is easy to get dragged into the notification whole. It is also easier to pick it up, and look at it just to check if you have any notifications, man I do this a lot. I was able to do some writing today, and I started reading a new book as well. I also did my Saturday morning plant maintenance routine as well. I believe it was a successful proactive Saturday morning.

I am just trying to be more mindful, and trying to focus on one task at a time. This isn’t easy, especially watching videos, but it can be done with a certain amount of will. We can easily be distracted. I know I can, so I want to take this day to be intentional with how I put my focus on to things. One thing at a time. Be proactive. Be intentional. Keep distance from overstimulation. Things to remind myself, and hopefully I can remind you as well.

Motivation

Recently I haven’t had much motivation. I was on a high weeks ago, but fell to a low this week. This happens. Motivation to do things comes and go, but what actually motivates us? I am sure we all asked that question. You may think why am I never motivated? You may also ask how do I get motivated? I will try to answer these questions to the best of my ability.

Definition

-the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

-the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

-Motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal.

There are 4 types of motivation:

  • Extrinsic Motivation-Comes from outside of us. We do it, because we feel we have to, or there will be consequences to the decision. It is done for external reasons.
  • Intrinsic Motivation-Comes from inside us. Doing something important or valuable to us. It is done for internal reasons.
  • Introjected motivation-If the action is not done, one will feel guilt.
  • Identified motivation-Where a person knows something needs to be done, but hasn’t done it yet.

What motivates us?

I came up with five, there could be more, but I felt these five were factors that help motivate us to get things done.

  • The end goal must be meaningful and important to you-You got to really want this thing to happen for your well-being. My example is, I eat healthier and exercise, because I really want to be healthy as I grow older. This is important to me, and keeps me motivated to stay healthy.
  • You prefer the positives over the negatives-To put it simple, the positives outweigh the negatives of doing something, so you choose to do it.
  • For the sake of your happiness/peace of mind-This is when life is unbearable not taking action, or not doing anything creates suffering and unhappiness. This pushes you to do something. For example, if I don’t write, I feel unaccomplished, this pushes me to write. I think this is one of biggest motivators.
  • Listening, or watching others/Reading-Other people can help motivate you to get things done. I recently watched Amy Landino’s Youtube video on Motivation, which pushed me to write this post, and write more in general. All you may need is some words of inspiration or knowledge to get you moving.
  • Life experiences-Situations that happen in life can get someone motivated to do things. For example, my grandma passed at a young age, due to diabetes, and poor health. This pushed my aunt’s and Mom to live a healthier lifestyle.

How do you get motivated?

It takes two things, effort and action. Motivation doesn’t just come to you. Waiting around for it to strike will do you no good. You got to push yourself to do the things you want to do. It isn’t always easy to start, but once you get going you may not want to stop. I don’t want to go for a run today, but I know how important it is for me to get a workout, so I push myself to do it, which keeps me motivated. The important thing is pushing yourself to take action, and get it done.

Motivation is a wonderful thing, but it takes work. It doesn’t come easy. You don’t just wake up, and become motivated. You got to do the work. You got to push. You got to really want change. The short-term may not be fun, you may struggle, and you may not enjoy it, but you will eventually see a whole lot of benefits in the long-term, which will cultivate a more happier, healthier, and peaceful you. Remember, short-term pains lead to long-term gains.

20 Fitness Motivation Quotes to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone | Goalcast

Thoughts Are Our Stories

Thoughts are just thoughts. They are stories of the mind. Be it retelling stories of the past, or pondering stories for the future. Our thoughts are not based on reality. They are bias, and they tend to be negative. Thoughts are our mind’s way of trying to understand the complex world around us. It is there to try to understand the difficult emotions and situations we face. It tries to provide comfort, but usually ends up making us feel worse.

We must remember thoughts are stories of the mind. They tend to focus on the past, or future. The reality is in the moment. You can have thoughts about the future, but it isn’t reality, until you are in the future moment, experiencing the situation. You can have thoughts of the past, but it isn’t reality, it has already happened, and usually your thoughts of the past are distorted.

Thoughts about ourselves and others are also distorted. Talking down to ourselves. Judging others. These thoughts are not based on reality. They can be negativively biased. They make us feel worse about ourselves and others, than we really should. Our mind’s want to protect us from getting hurt by painting this brush of negative thoughts and worse case scenarios, but it doesn’t work. It doesn’t help. It tends to make us feel worse.

We have negative thoughts about others, because we want to feel better about ourselves, but it doesn’t help us fix our own struggles. We have negative thoughts about ourselves, because we have high standards for ourselves and want to be perfect, but that is impossible, because all humans have flaws and make mistakes. It is important to be aware that thoughts are just thoughts, thoughts are stories, thoughts are bias, thoughts are distorted to fit your perception. They do not reflect reality. They do not define you.

Goodbye 2020/Hello 2021

This was an interesting year. A year of change. A year to adapt. Although, we can look at this year in a negative light. You can also find some highlights and positives to the year. Plans may not have happened the way you may have wanted, but that is life, and we got to learn to keep going and move forward, instead of dwelling of what could have been.

A new year is upon us. Some people see it as a new start. I am sure we all want to move on from 2020. Although, the pandemic will still be alive into 2021. There is hope for better days into 2021. I do hope for happier days in 2021, but I am also aware that challenges will arrive. The year will have its ups and downs. We can hope for more ups. Lets look forward to new experiences, and lets learn to embrace the challenges that come our way. Its great to be hopeful for greatness, but it is also beneficial to be mindful that life is not smooth and easy. This can make the year much more peaceful for your mind.

To all the people who dealt with loss, be it a job, or loved one. My heart hurts for you. There is nothing anyone can say, or do to heal those wounds. It does get easier with time, but it is a process. Sadness, anger, and frustration will be prevalent, and that is okay. I do hope this year will be a better year for you. I hope you have a healthy way to let out your emotions.

This is the end of a new chapter, and on to the next one. There will be twist and turns. There will be some fun times and some dark times. All you can do is do your best. Work for what you want, and find ways to bring as much joy and peace into your life. Here is to the new of possibilities, wonders, and discoveries. A year of learning, growing, and evolving as a human being. A year to learn more about yourself. A year to love and appreciate yourself and others more. Happy New Year!

2020 Reflection/2021 Planning Post

Happy holidays everyone! Although, we call it happy, not everyone is happy, during these times. There are some who are grieving, struggling mentally, financially, or physically, also dealing with other difficulties in their lives right now. This can be a happy time for some, but a sad time for others. Happiness shouldn’t be forced, during this time. It is okay to be sad, upset, tired, lonely etc,. Forcing happiness won’t help. Accepting these low emotions will help one move forward sooner. Just ty to bare through, and do the best you can. Feeling happiness, joy and excitement are not necessary, even if society depicts it that way.

This was a year of change. A year to adapt. A year to cope. Although, this can happen any year. The same thing hit us all at the same time. Plans needed to be changed, or canceled. We had to learn to live life differently. It may have been hard, but we came through it. We learned to adapt. We learned to cope. We can look at this year in a bad light, but you can also find some good, positives, and things to appreciate this year. Change is hard, but it help us grow. Change is inevitable, whether you want it or not, so accepting it is the best option. Why questions will get you nowhere, but figuring out ways to cope, and deal with this new change will set you free.

The pandemic will not end in the new year. It will seep into 2021 as well. We got to try to make the best, and enjoy our lives as much as we can. I am sure you can find some great experiences you had this year, and you can find things that you appreciate in your life at the moment. 2020 was a year of learning and adapting for all us. We should go into every year expecting change, and a need to adapt. Change doesn’t always happen on our time, so preparation is important. It creates less pain in the future.

Lets go into the new year with a mindful mindset. Hoping for the best, but aware that the worse could happen. That struggles will appear. That life is unpredictable. It has good and bad moments. The new year won’t be perfect. Your life doesn’t automatically change in the new year. Things don’t reset. But you can always make changes. You can always make things better for oneself. You can always improve and evolve. And that are some of the beauties in life. Lets look forward to the new year for our continuation of growth through our progress for personal development.

I prepared a couple of reflection/planning questions as well. If you like to go through them that would be great. I think it is important to reflect and plan at the end of the year. This helps show how far you have come, and how you can grow. It also helps to put things into perspective. I also answered the first six myself. Hopefully these question will be helpful.

2020 Reflection Questions

1.Positives of the year?: Becoming a plant owner, connecting with family and friends, going on a trip to the beach, being more mindful

2.Challenges of the year?: Being quarantined, things being restricted, due to covid 19, 

3.Things that benefited me this year?:Being mindful, being a plant owner, learning to cope and accept difficult emotions

4.Things I learned this year?:To be aware of my emotions, and that all emotions are valid and necessary. Connecting with others is important.

5.How Did I grow this year?: Learning to be more at peace with myself, learning to cope and accept all emotions, learning not to allow social media to control my mindset

6.Achievements this year?: Buying a more reliable car, making more visits to the dentist, being more at peace with myself and life, keeping my plants alive, getting employee of the month, started writing my book.

Here are some others to think about.

What are my thoughts of 2020?

What were my challenges? How did I cope?

What new experiences did I have?

What can I improve on for next year?

What can I take with me into 2021?

What can I get rid of in 2021?

What positive habits have you gained this year? What would you like to gain next year?

What negative habits would you like to lose next year?

What are you proud of this year?

What goals do you want to achieve next year? What are the short term pains? What are the long term gains? Can you make the short term pains manageable? Are there ways to overcome them?

Emotions

What are Emotions?

-a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.

-instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

– an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response.

These are a couple of definitions I found online. There are many different opinions on what are emotions. My thoughts, it is a feeling that arises from an event(that can be from an experience, a person, a situation). Emotions can be difficult to grasp and understand for some, if they try to suppress or avoid them.

What Kind of Emotions Are There?

Emotions permeate our lives. They are important to be aware of, understand and accept in our lives. There are known to be 6 basic emotions. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust and surprise. That seems to be a bit small. I am sure we express more? A study by Alan S. Cohen and Dacher Keltner, PHD recognized 27 different emotions, during their study.

  • Admiration
  • Adoration
  • Aesthetic Appreciation
  • Amusement
  • Anxiety
  • Awe
  • Awkwardness
  • Boredom
  • Calmness
  • Confusion
  • Craving
  • Disgust
  • Empathetic pain
  • Entrancement
  • Envy
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Horror
  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Nostalgia
  • Romance
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Sexual desire
  • Sympathy
  • Triumph

Some notable ones are missing, like anger, or compassion, but here we get more of a variety of emotions, and some I never even considered, but I like this list. We are complex creatures. The first list seems too simplistic for me. But they are considered basic emotions, so I guess that makes sense, but I like to express that we as humans experience a plethora of emotions.

Emotions Just Are

As the lovely Psychologist and author of Emotional Agility Susan David states, ‘Emotions just are.’ I really love that statement. There are no positive or negative emotions, good or bad. It is all in the way we perceive these emotions that make it that way. We view positive emotions as comfortable and uplifting. We view negative emotions as uncomfortable and difficult. We put them in categories to make it easier for us, but doing so allows us to push away the “negative” or “bad” emotions, which isn’t helpful for us. Happiness/sadness, joy/anger, anxiety/calmness are all emotions that need to be felt. There is nothing wrong with any of these emotions. The way we cope and perceive these emotions is where the importance lies.

Dr. David Burns, a Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist, has an approach I found interesting and insightful. He first asks his patients to confront the difficult emotions, and then asked them to see how that emotions can be useful to them. I thought this was a beneficial approach. By looking at the emotion in a different way. It can help dial down the emotions to a manageable level. For example, stress/anxiety allows you to be alert, it helps protect you from future danger. Sadness shows that you are a caring individual, and you wish the best for yourself and others. Anger allows you to fight for what is valuable to you, it shows that you have standards, it shows there are things of importance to you. Once you look at it in this way. You realize these emotions have value as well. They are necessary as well. The problem is we use these emotions to hurt ourselves and others, instead of helping us, because we assume these emotions are “bad.”

We got to remember that emotions just are. They are here to tell you something. Nothing good or bad. They are there to guide you. To show you what you need to do next. You can use it to hurt you or help you, but it is all in your power. Emotions will never go away, so trying to do so will make it worse. Accept them, and recognize they aren’t there to harm you, they aren’t necessarily there to help you either. They just are, and it is up to you to choose what to do with it.

Sources:

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-emotions-2795178

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/09/09/here-are-the-27-different-human-emotions-according-to-a-study/?sh=547b9a381335