I FEEL STUCK –
could it be what I’m thinking?
PREVIOUS: Dealing with criticism #3
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
OVERVIEW – A very IMP distinction: When ACoAs express emotional distress of any kind, we are often told: “You’re just being negative”. This scolding phrase actually refers to our thinking, never to any of our emotions! Yes, cognitive distortions (toxic beliefs) do create painful emotions, but the thoughts come first, and NO emotion is negative, no matter what the ‘teachers’ say! Anything negative is by implication bad.
But emotions are not bad, because they give us tremendously important info about our experiences. Don’t try to change emotions, only the toxic thoughts (& the negative actions that follow)!
ALSO: When we are presently in deep pain because of some current event (death of a loved one, loss of a home, a serious health problem, re-experiencing an old trauma….) it is imperative to not let anyone tell us to “snap out of it / you’re being dramatic / be grateful for X / let go of the past…..
We have a right to feel whatever we’re feeling! What we need to keep checking is that what WE are THINKING / believing is NOT based in bitterness, blame, hopelessness, guilt, panic, rage, S-H, shame ….
Negative/toxic thinking (NT) is a form of self-torture. It’s based on Toxic Rules (reinforcing our S-H) and in CDs. It means that we:
– assume the worst – believe it’s hopeless
– are sure we can’t do a lot of things
– think it’s too late, we’re too old…
– can’t see or imagine possibilities
– ignore available options – limit our vision & dreams
– lose self-respect & confidence
• When we’re in a negative state of mind (obsessive NT) we give off a vibe of fear & powerlessness that brings us & everyone around us down. It shows in the overall style of our presentation: our words -of course- body language, being mentally distracted & not listening to others, being emotionally distant, antsy or surly…. Our negativity encourages the attraction of other miserable people & situations, while obviously repelling anyone or anything happy, positive & forward-looking.
• For ACoAs, it also reinforces our sense of ‘not belonging’ & feeling disconnected – ie. abandoned, which then make us even more pessimistic! It acts like an underground warren of termites, eating away at the foundations of our self-esteem, sense of purpose & love of life.
ACoAs still living primarily from the WIC’s – ego state get most things backwards – we’re emotionally dyslexic! What is generally safe in the world we ignore or think is dangerous, while being drawn to what is actually dangerous or inappropriate, often considering it acceptable, exciting or ‘feel good’.
Identifying what is & isn’t NT about others is a must
NEGATIVITY (focusing on the bad side of things) can be about:
• ourselves (S-H) & future prospects (“I’ll never be happy…..”)
• events (“That party was painful”, “This dinner is going to be dull.”)
• other people (“I’d have friends, but everyone I know is so boring.”)
• people’s actions (“He made the lamest joke”, “Wow, she’s shallow”)
• general groups (“I hate hipsters. They think they’re better than me because they listen to crappy obscure bands.”)
• larger, more abstract organizations or institutions (“My city is so phony & stuck up”, “Everyone in this company is so selfish”, “I have nothing in common with society.”)
• any form of art, by being overly critical, nitpicking, never appreciating or enjoying anything (“I couldn’t get into that movie”, “No one writes good music anymore”)
NEXT: “Being Negative (Part 2)