WHAT A MESS I’VE MADE
I don’t know what I was thinking!
REVIEW all CDs posts
QUOTE: “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy” ~Leo Buscaglia, author of Born for Love
Cognitive Distortions (CDs) represent ways of thinking that are present (available to the conscious mind) but skewed & maladaptive, making it harder to get along well in life (MORE…..)
Cognitive Deficits are an absence of certain adaptive ways of thinking &/or information that would allow us to successfully handle many of life’s situations. People use & maintain CDs:
— To deny responsibility for our actions & ignore their harmful results
— To avoid facing painful emotions or having to change (so we keep acting in ways we know are harmful)
CATEGORIES of CDs
a. SELF-SERVING: when we EXternalize our behavior problems to protect a fragile sense of self from additional harm, using such CDs as
• Self-centeredness / Blame / Minimizing / Labeling / Assuming the worst
b. SELF-DEBASING – INternalizing our behavior problems as an expression of self-hate, using such CDs as
• Catastrophizing / Over-generalization /Personalizing / Selective Abstraction / Shoulds / Disqualifying the positive….
CDs act like a virus or termites – damaging the whole system. Conscious thinking & talking negatively reinforces itself, creating a feedback loop of self-harm
• Studies show how CDs impact a wide variety of
— SOCIAL problems: child molestation (religious & non-church pedophiles), juvenile delinquents, chronic substance abusers….
— PERSONAL issues: depression & worry, OCD, Bi-polar illness, difficulties with relationships, college success, job searches, physical health problems… partially caused by anxiety & prolonged stress
✶ HOWEVER, what’s most important to remember is that CDs are the visible signs of deeper, subconscious emotional issues, which need to be addressed. The mantra used by the Behavior Modification school of psychology “Change your thinking, & all will be well” is not the whole story & does a great disservice to many suffering people. If we change our surface thinking but not the underlying damage, we won’t see much improvement in our lives.
• Having said that, there is no doubt that identifying & replacing (not changing) CDs does make a positive difference in well-being!
CDs represent holes in our reasoning.
Aaron Beck, who studied the mental causes of depression, consistently observed 3 themes:
• Current events are always interpreted negatively
• Depressed individuals dislike themselves
• The future is also appraised negatively
SO, when we want to identify what might be causing depression, we need to carefully notice & admit the relationships between an external event & our inner response (See posts “Anxiety & T.E.A.“)
i. a Situation : making a cold-call, asking for help, mulling over a problem
ii. Automatic Thoughts : “They’re too busy to talk to me” , “No one wants to help me”, “He won’t be willing to listen”
iii. Logic Errors (the CD) : Assuming the Worst, Mind-Reading, Fortune-Telling….
EFFECTS of habitually using both categories of CDs:
— the Self-Serving ones only cover up our insecurities like a shabby bandage, keeping us dishonest with ourselves & separated from others
— the Self-Debasing ones intensify our wounds, keeping us hopeless
1. SPIRITUAL – CDs:
• attract situations that make us believe something’s perpetually wrong with us & the world, SO we stay stuck in our damage • close us down to possibilities & the flow of abundance, preventing us from attracting ‘people, places & things’ (PPT) that would advance our life
• like perfectionism – makes us vulnerable to spiritually abusive situations
• mutilate, cripple & corrode the human spirit, & provide the rationale for maintaining addictions
• obscures / limit our vision to go after dreams, leaving us confrontational, apathetic & cynical
• suck out our faith & confidence in life, making it hard to be hopeful about anything
2. EMOTIONAL – CDs:
• can prevent us from letting go of past hurts
• contribute to a false sense of reality, paranoia, illusions
• directly contribute to thoughts (& attempts) of suicide
• increase frustration, depression, S-H, anxiety, irritability & helpless rage
• maintain the feeling of being a victim / scapegoat
make it easier to feel unattractive, so not want to do regular self-care
• prevent us from seeing the bright side of life, making thing less fun
• reinforce our childhood abandonment, hurt & disappointment
• will distort or prevent the enjoyment of sexual activities
➼ Put-downs from others can erode our sense of self-worth, especially when coming from our own family. Children definitely believe negative assessments of themselves given by teachers and parents, developing a damaged self-concept when criticized on a regular basis.
▶Researchers estimate that the ratio of positive-to-negative comments needs to be at least 5-to-1 for any relationship to be healthy and survive long-term.
THIS applies to how we talk to ourselves, as well!
NEXT: CD Consequences – Part 2