Hi. I want to start first with some Cheese in the News… the title of this article is the best: Cheese Protects You from All Causes of Death, Says Science. So there’s some good news.
I am enjoying going to therapy in that it’s helping me to think about things differently and I like my therapist’s approach. I don’t dread going! Which, you know, happens to people in therapy sometimes. J is teaching me the first steps of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I’ve already had some success at realizing my own irrational thoughts, so I feel good about this.
HOWEVER, I’ve been having a rough go of it. I have had several weeks of feeling really “off” and sad, unmotivated and just plain yucky. I’ve had a bunch of crummy old friends show up, like insomnia, bad body image, self-hate, and desire to isolate. Some days, speaking feels like a monumental effort that I might not be able to achieve. I am struggling daily with what feels like a serious existential crisis.
I seem to have two modes of functioning:
- I am a badass and I’ve got this.
- Everything is hopeless and I should give up as I’m a loser.
Neither of these is true all the time, but I am pretty sure I’m NOT a loser. Like, right now, I can say that with certainty. I’m far from perfect, but I’m not a loser. Why does my brain tell me that I am? My therapist said that I am having cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that can influence your emotions. Everyone experiences cognitive distortions to some degree, but in their more extreme forms they can be harmful. She gave me a handout and asked that I think this week about if I am doing any of the following to the extreme:
Magnification and Minimization: Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events. One might believe their own achievements are unimportant, or that their mistakes are excessively important.
Catastrophizing: Seeing only the worst possible outcomes of a situation.
Overgeneralization: Making broad interpretations from a single or few events. “I felt awkward during my job interview. I am always so awkward.”
Magical Thinking: The belief that acts will influence unrelated situations. “I am a good person—bad things shouldn’t happen to me.”
Personalization: The belief that one is responsible for events outside of their own control. “My mom is always upset. She would be fine if I did more to help her.”
Jumping to Conclusions: Interpreting the meaning of a situation with little or no evidence.
Mind Reading: Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “She would not go on a date with me. She probably thinks I’m ugly.”
Fortune Telling: The expectation that a situation will turn out badly without adequate evidence.
Emotional Reasoning: The assumption that emotions reflect the way things really are. “I feel like a bad friend, therefore I must be a bad friend.”
Disqualifying the Positive: Recognizing only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive. One might receive many compliments on an evaluation, but focus on the single piece of negative feedback.
“Should” Statements: The belief that things should be a certain way. “I should always be friendly.”
All-or-Nothing Thinking: Thinking in absolutes such as “always”, “never”, or “every.” “I never do a good job on anything.”
I’m definitely guilty of the extreme forms of some of these, especially All-or-Nothing Thinking and Disqualifying the Positive. Do you do any of these things to the extreme? Do you have ways of righting yourself when your thinking gets out of control in these ways?
I was bitching about my not-great day yesterday to my sisters via text yesterday, when Stacey asked if I wanted to wallow or if I wanted to be lifted up. She was volunteering to do either (or both). And while sometimes I do like to wallow with the help of others, I mostly like to find ways to get myself out of my rut. I’m grateful for patient friends and sisters who listen to me bitch and moan, and who always have a kind word or funny meme to help get me back on track.
Please share in comments (if you wish) some thoughts of what works for you when you are trying to redirect your self-destructive thoughts.