Believe it or not, you can change the way your brain works. Certain thinking exercises can actually change the way your brain handles inputs. Like what. Isn’t that amazing!?!?!
One of the first things I learned when I was hospitalized, was the existence of cognitive distortions. These are thoughts I was using to rationalize a negative feeling or emotion. It was huge for me to see all my rationals typed up, printed out, and sitting in front of me. I was able to use the labels and identify when my incorrect thinking was taking over. A big one for me was using “Should” statements. I “should” go out tonight with my friends. I “Should” clean my room every night. My friends “should” be there whenever I need them. And mind-reading. Whoa man, that one plagues me. I’m constantly like “This person totally thinks I’m not as good as them. It’s so obvious.”
And let’s just be honest here. EVERYONE struggles with thought errors. So don’t feel bad if you realize these are showing up in your life. It’s learnin’ time, so take a minute to read all 7. There’s a prize if you get all the way to the end.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking: Evaluating situations, event’s, people, or yourself in the extreme of perfect or horrible. Also called black-and-white or polarized thinking. “If I do not do this PERFECTLY, I have absolutely failed.”
- Catastrophizing: Blowing events out of proportion (exaggerating what happened) or taking it as proof that something bad is going to happen. Also called fortune telling or worst case scenario thinking. Includes “What if” thinking. “What if Keith realizes I made a mistake yesterday on the project and he fires me!!”–even thought Keith thinks you’re awesome.
- Discounting the Positive: Devaluing your (or other’s) positive qualities, attributes, or contributions, or failing to notice the positive reactions someone is having towards you. Example: “Even though I helped Keith move today and he was appreciative, I am still a loser because I forgot to bring the packing tape.”
- Mind Reading: Assuming you know what the other person is thinking, feeling or believes based on your behavior (what you are saying, doing, how well you are communicating, your sensations and so on) or how you are interpreting his gestures, language, tone, or behaviors. Example: “He looked away when I said I was happy to see him. He must be mad at me.”
- “Should” Statements: Believe that there are only certain ways to act, behave or interact with others. Also includes “must” or “ought to” statements that reflect and generate false expectations. When “should” statements are directed toward you, you experience guilt, remorse, regret, or anger toward yourself. When “should” statements are directed outward, you experience anger, resentment, or frustration. Example: “I should help Keith with his move today or I am not a good friend.”
- Faulty Comparisons: Believe that your current situation is somehow worse than someone else’ or how you imagined it would be. When you compare, you discount the positive and rely heavily on “should” statements.
- False Expectations: Allowing your anticipation of a specific result to negatively affect your brain and body. Often occurs with “should” statements, but can occurs with any of the thinking errors and can equally apply to you, to situations, or to the people in your life.
Any of those sound familiar? I can relate to almost every single one. EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!!!
So, now that you’re facing your thought-demons, what do you do next? DON’T WORRY FRIENDS I’M LOOKING OUT FOR YOU!!!
Check out this worksheet I put together for you . I know, I’m just the sweetest.
And, I filled it out for you, if you’re wanting to see exactly how it works.
Seriously, give it at try. You’ll be amazed how your thoughts dictate how you feel, especially when they’re malfunctioning.