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.

35 Things That Improved My Life/Things I Appreciate

Today I will be celebrating my 35th birthday. Some people see their birthdays as getting older, but I look at it as celebrating another year of life on this earth. I made it another year! That is something to celebrate. I wanted to make a post of the 35 things that improved my life, or things I appreciate to celebrate 35 years. It is good to put focus on the good, and look at the bright side, so I wanted to make this. The list isn’t in order of anything. I appreciate all these things equally.

1.Becoming aware

2.Practicing mindfulness

3.Appreciating connections with friends and family

4.Drinking more water

5.Eating healthier

6.Consuming less sugar

7.Creating this blog

8.Journaling

9.Learning not to strive for happiness/seek contentment

10.Accepting my flaws

11.Getting a better paying job

12.Having mindful time

13.Taking deep breaths

14.Meditation

15.Getting a dependable car

16.Taking small steps

17.Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day

18.Reading

19.Not allowing Social Media to control my thoughts & emotions

20.Learning to accept all emotions

21.Taking nature walks

22.Appreciating the people who love me/like me

23.Not caring about likes and attention

24.Expressing myself without worries

25.Appreciating being in my own skin

26.Taking in the moment as much as I can

27.Looking at the positives

28.Appreciating my strengths

29.Learning happiness comes from within

30.Finding appreciation for the people and things in my life

31.Finding the joys of life

32.Becoming a plant owner

33.Learning patience

34.Embracing the struggles

35.Accepting life for what it is

While writing this I found a couple of other things that I could list as well. You don’t realize how many things you appreciate in life, until you start looking. I implore you all to do a list like this, not just for your birthday, although that would be fun, but just in general to show you how much their is to appreciate in life. Yes, there are negatives and bad things that happen in life, but there is also plenty of good and positives. Putting your attention on the good brings peace and happiness.

Overthinking

Overthinking is a problem we all face in life, so more than others. Overthinking keeps us a way from mindful living, and keeps us stuck in the past, or future. Overthinking can be a hindrance to our happiness, peace of mind and well-being. It cultivate feelings of anxiety, frustration, sadness and more. Why do we do it?

It is our brains way of trying to understand the world around us. Our minds wants to protect us, it wants control of a situation, so it goes into overdrive trying to find a solution. The problem is, it does the opposite. Our thoughts are our mind’s way of trying to understand what happened in the past, and what will happen in the future. Overthinking can hinder our ability to problem-solve and take action. This is why the saying ‘don’t think, just do,’ is so important. The more you think, the less you do.

You would think thinking more would allow you to resolve things, but it just makes you feel worse. You just go in circles. Your thoughts are stories. They are not reality. You are creating a movie in your head, but it won’t bring you clarity or peace. Overthinking stops you from problem-solving, it stops you from taking action, and it stops you from making decisions. This is why it is important to get out of your head, and be aware that these thoughts are stories of the mind.

Ways to combat overthinking:

  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Journal
  • Challenge your thoughts-Question your thoughts, are these thoughts facts, is there evidence to back them up
  • Reframe your thoughts-Put your thoughts in a more realistic, positive light.
  • Double standard technique-This is talking to yourself in the same compassionate way you would a friend. If your friend was in your situation, what would you say? If it is true for them, why not you?

Clarity and peace of mind have come from using these practices and techniques. It helps calm your thoughts and brings relief. Thinking too much has never caused me peace of mind. It has only allowed me to lose sleep, creativity, productivity among other things.

Questions to ask yourself when overthinking:

Thoughts of the past: How would this help me now? What can I learn from this? Are these thoughts helping me at the moment?

Thoughts of the future: Am I really in danger? Would I die from this? Are these thoughts helping me at this moment?

The most important question to ask is how is this helping me right now? It is important to be aware of if these thoughts are helping, or hurting you. When you are aware, you have a better chance of combating your thoughts with helpful techniques to gain peace of mind and clarity.