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Old 09-11-2009, 05:26 PM
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Distorted Thinking

Chapter 5, Cognitive Distortions, Page 70: *



"1. Overgeneralization. From one isolated event you make a general, universal rule. If you fail once, you'll always fail.

2. Global labeling. You automatically use pejorative label to describe yourself, rather than accurately describing your qualities.

3. Filtering. You selectively pay attention to the negative and disregard the positive.

4. Polarized thinking. You lump things into absolute, black-and-white categories, with no middle ground. You have to be perfect or you're worthless.

5. Self-blame. You consistently blame yourself for things that may not really be your fault.

6. Personalization. You assume that everything has something to do with you, and you negatively compare yourself to everyone else.

7. Mind reading. You assume that others don't like you, are angry with you, don't care about you, and so on, without any real evidence that your assumptions are correct.

8. Control fallacies. You either feel that you have total responsibility for everybody and everything, or feel that you have no control, that you're a helpless victim.

9. Emotional reasoning. You assume that things are the way you feel about them."








*All of this text is from Self-Esteem: A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving & maintaining your self-esteem (3rd Ed.) by Matthew McKay, PH.D. and Patrick Fanning.
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:30 PM
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It's so useful to keep this list in mind! Thanks, Bam!
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:31 PM
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I was going to post this in the Mental Health section, but figured this would get more exposure here.


I'm doing my best to recognize my distorted thoughts...basically any time I kick myself in the ass.

I'll talk about these things at my leisure.


If you want, feel free to relate your own distorted ways of thinking and how you are changing your thinking patterns.
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Old 09-11-2009, 05:49 PM
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I'll start. I'll pick door number three:


Filtering

I tend to focus on the negative and completely ignore all of the positive things in my life.

This is how it goes (here's the bad):

--I'm nearly 30 and I'm living at home with mommy and daddy.
--I work in a fast food restaurant.
--I have no social life.
--I'm fat.
--I have acne...so I'm ugly.


These things play over and again in my mind all of the time. In order to drown out the negativity I now acknowledge the positive things about me and in my life:

--I'm funny
--I take good photographs
--I'm creative
--I'm sensitive (yes, I think that's a good thing)
--I'm caring
--I'm sober
--I'm getting help for depression


Taking this a step further, I argue against all of the negative thoughts I have:

--True, I'm living at home with my parents, but I've made big positive changes in my life. I'm becoming more responsible and I am getting my sh!t together. I'm sober and I'm getting help for my mental illness. I feel better. I have a home. I am grateful that I have a supportive family and these people want me to get better. They love me. That's awesome.

--True, I work in fast food and it's not my cup of tea, but I have a job. I just got a promotion so I'm making more money. I am saving up my money. This job will get me out of my parent's house. This job will get me a car. This job will open up more opportunities for me. Managerial experience is good resume fodder.

--True, I have no social life, but I'm a likeable person. I'm working on building my confidence. I recently "outed" myself at work. I'm becoming stronger by the day. The more time that passes the more I like myself. When I'm ready, I'll be back out there in the real world with bells on.

--True, I'm overweight, but I lost 30 pounds earlier this year. I can do it. I've done it before and I'll do it again. If I slip with food that doesn't mean I have to crash and burn. I won't beat myself up and I'll keep moving forward.

--True, I have acne, but I've been using medicated soaps and creams. The acne isn't gone but there has been improvement. The acne isn't nearly as bad as it could be. I'm not a bombshell, but dang it I'm not a dog either. I have nice eyes and lips and a wonderful smile. Oh, and I really like my hair.
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Old 09-11-2009, 06:29 PM
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Good topic Bam. I hope you don't mind if I add one more.


10. Making should statements - Concentrating on what you think "should" or ought to be rather than the actual situation you are faced with, or having rigid rules which you think should always apply no matter what the circumstances are. Albert Ellis termed this "Musturbation". (See wishful thinking.)

"Cognitive distortion." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 14 Aug 2009, 03:40 UTC. 14 Aug 2009 Cognitive distortion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Here is one that I catch myself using from time to time. Like when I say I should have done this or that. When I do use the 'should'. I correct myself and say somethings along the lines of: I had an opportunity to do this or that and chose not to do it. It really makes me look at my decisions at the time. I get to take full ownership of what I did in the past rather than making it seem like some sort of vague retrospective thing.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:57 PM
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The whole musterbation thing, we tend to be very demanding of ourselves as individuals. We tend to be not nearly so demanding when we're at our best: One-on-one with each other (as human beings instead of marketable products). The former can bully us into not attempting the latter.

Bam, you're the bomb in my eyes and far too precious to be a marketable product. It's a mistake to think of yourself in those "marketable" terms.

It's really great that you are arguing against that kind of irrationality - we're so riddled with it, as a society and as individuals.
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Old 09-12-2009, 11:25 AM
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That's a good one, Zen. My inner despot used to be ruthless, drove me crazy - til I told him to STHU.

These days, whenever a "should" or "must" shows up, I consciously turn it into a positive "want" statement. Sometimes it takes a little effort, but the effects are amazing.

Easy example:
"I must do my laundry."
--> I want to do the laundry because I love fresh, clean clothes

Others take a lot of work:

Tough one (currently working on it):
"I must quit smoking"
--> I absolutely want to stop smoking because ....

A lot of these "wants" have completely replaced the urgency and rigidity of the past "shoulds". I can take them or leave them, sometimes to the -personally ground breaking point, lol- of doing stuff because I actually *want* to... or not doing stuff simply because I don't want to. No more tyranny.

It's not a free for all, though. If I run into a complex situation where it's very tricky to replace a "must" with a "want", I use Viktor Frankl's Logotherapy ... meaningful effort.
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:58 PM
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I'm trying to convince a class that the word "natural" is too loaded (with many MUSTS grounded in religiosity - including Emerson and Thoreau) to be helpful. We'd be better off with such thoughts as "good for us," "bad for us," "I like this," "I don't like that." So far, that kind of rationality and preciseness in language is a no-go with my classmates. I'm not giving up yet though.
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Old 09-13-2009, 12:35 AM
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Cool thread, thanks Bam.
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:08 PM
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Bam I can so relate to this. I have black and white thinking. I am at times that awful chicken Henny Penny that thinks the sky is falling ie overgeneralizing things and running ideas out to the most negative possible scenario ever. I see myself in this. Thanks for posting.
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:54 PM
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Ah, another one to list. It wasn't in the book...


....here's #11:


Rationalizing

I did everything I could to protect my drinking:

--Drinking makes me feel better
--Drinking is the only thing that makes me feel better
--Iím not an alcoholicÖI just enjoy drinking so Iíve never had a reason to stop
--Itís my body, itís my life. What I do to myself is no oneís business
--Iím alone/gay/social outcast/etc. so I have the right to get drunk
--Drinking is entertaining and itís legalÖso itís okay to get smashed
--Everyone else does itÖso can I


Drinking does make me feel better in some ways, but the feeling is short lived and at the cost of failing physical health.

There are other things I can do to feel better. Thatís what therapy, prescription meds for depression and healthy hobbies are for.

I am addicted to alcohol. I did enjoy drinking. Heart palpitations and finally realizing that I wasted 6 years of my life to drinking is a pretty dang good reason to stop.

It is my body and I did what I could to destroy it for a buzz. I didnít love myself when I was drinking. Taking care of myself means being sober. The people who care about me have a right to be concerned about my well-being.

Being those things doesnít give me the right to destroy my life. Continuing to drink doesnít help fix my concerns. Being sober helps me to love and take care of myself so that I donít remain a social outcast.

Drinking was fun and it is legalÖbut it is a drugÖa drug that has thoroughly crapped up my life.

Not true. Not everyone drinks. Just because some do it doesnít mean that itís okay for me to do it. I am not like those other people. When I drink everything goes to sh!t.
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Old 09-17-2009, 12:28 PM
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Ah, tough one. I donít know if Iím ready for this one yet, but Iíll try:

Global labeling


--Iím ugly
--Iím stupid
--Iím not attractive
--Iím a loser
--Iím lazy
--Iím fat
--Iím not good enough the way I am


Ugh.

Iím learning to love myself but Iím not quite there with all points, yet. Hereís some positive qualities:

--Iím funny
--Iím creative
--Iím sensitive
--Iím a good friend
--Iím a good worker
--I never give up
--Iím sober


OkayÖso Iíll do my best to refute the negatives:

I am not ugly. Iím not a beauty queen, either, but I have nice lips and eyes. People love it when I smile.

I am not stupid. Iím not a genius, but I donít have to be. Sometimes I make mistakesÖso what? I think for myself and question everything. I love that about me.

(oh my) I am attractive (I couldnít look at the screen when I typed that). Being attractive isnít all about looks. I have a great sense of humor and am really good at making people feel at ease around me. People love to talk to me. I know this to be true because I rarely get a moment of peace when I am surrounded by others. Dang it, people like me.

I am not a loser. I am sober. I am taking care of my mental well-being. Iíve grown much over the last 5 months. I am making progress. I no longer sit around wallowing in my own crap.

I am not lazy. There are times when I donít do much, but I donít always do nothing. I took care of two important things just today. I show up for work.

Iím not fat, just a little heavy. I am much more than my body size/shape. There is also a good bit of muscle to me as well. Iím not a bag of lard.

(oh crapÖthis oneís a little tricky). At this moment I am good enough as I am. Itís time to stop beating myself up for my failures.




Healing has to do with the person Iím becoming. Healing has nothing to do with the things I acquire.
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Old 09-17-2009, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bamboozle View Post
"1. Overgeneralization. From one isolated event you make a general, universal rule. If you fail once, you'll always fail.

2. Global labeling. You automatically use pejorative label to describe yourself, rather than accurately describing your qualities.

3. Filtering. You selectively pay attention to the negative and disregard the positive.

4. Polarized thinking. You lump things into absolute, black-and-white categories, with no middle ground. You have to be perfect or you're worthless.

5. Self-blame. You consistently blame yourself for things that may not really be your fault.

6. Personalization. You assume that everything has something to do with you, and you negatively compare yourself to everyone else.

7. Mind reading. You assume that others don't like you, are angry with you, don't care about you, and so on, without any real evidence that your assumptions are correct.

8. Control fallacies. You either feel that you have total responsibility for everybody and everything, or feel that you have no control, that you're a helpless victim.

9. Emotional reasoning. You assume that things are the way you feel about them."
OK

I would like some input on viewing this as a strictly cognitive exercise

I have been dating a woman for some time,

starting six weeks ago she:

has become "unavailable" by phone, internet, or text from between 5 and 7 PM three out of four Friday nights until Saturday, she is usually unavailable from 15 to 24 hours, she then informs me she had a "medical emergency, either a panic attack but usually an elevated heart rate, that she didn't answer for...some reason...I don't know why, but she was home.

The following week she informed me she was "going to visit family" whereupon there was "no contact" from Friday night until Sunday night, when she informed me she had another "medical emergency" and that her family just "dropped her off at a complete strangers house" and she was "bedbound" there for two days where her family had just "abandoned her" and there was no cell phone coverage, computer or internet, or land line, although she informed me she was able to borrow a cell phone from another unidentified stranger (which I still don't understand as she told me she was bedridden the entire time) in order to call her mother to feed her cats, who she would have NEVER left unattended in the first place.

OK

Please, purely cognitive responses, no judgments on either of us, I just want to check my thinking

My thinking is:

Past behavior is the best indication of present and future behavior, she has a history of infidelity to her husband

This is now a pattern, if you "disappear" four out of five weekend nights, and only weekend nights, this goes beyond mere coincidence.

When she informed me of her decision to visit her family, I set a boundary, I said to myself if she 'disappears" for the whole weekend, which I strongly suspect she is about to do, in conjunction with her "going no contact" 3 out of 4 previous weekend nights, I am done. I can no longer live with the uncertainty, or the certainty actually that she will disappear every weekend for the night, it's not a matter of insecurity, it's a matter of a pattern developing I am not comfortable living with.

For the previous six months, by no means did we "track" each other, but If I called she either answered, or had informed me ahead of time she would be out of touch. This no longer happens, she just disappears for 24 hours every weekend.

OK, My decision is to walk away based on a clear pattern of actions. That I have no desire to be involved with someone that is going to 'disappear" four out of the last five weekends. I have told her Goodbye, listed the four out five nights she has disappeared, stated she has a history of infidelity, which coupled with her disappearing every weekend has made me no longer trust what she says and her lengthy stories of why she disappears every friday night like clockwork.

I have told her goodbye.

Her thinking is that I am accusatory and delusional, and that none of this ever took place, and that she is NOT the woman I say she is and that my thought process is one based on insecurity and stories I am telling myself.

I have the phone records and texts for every single occurance, they did in fact take place.

OK, purely cognitive input please, help me out boys and girls, please don't slander her, this question is to check if my thinking is in fact delusional, not cast aspersions on her character if that makes sense. I am not angry nor judgmental at her, just don't want to continue "seeing" someone I don't trust any more.
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Ago View Post
When she informed me of her decision to visit her family, I set a boundary, I said to myself if she 'disappears" for the whole weekend, which I strongly suspect she is about to do, in conjunction with her "going no contact" 3 out of 4 previous weekend nights, I am done. I can no longer live with the uncertainty, or the certainty actually that she will disappear every weekend for the night, it's not a matter of insecurity, it's a matter of a pattern developing I am not comfortable living with.

Ago, I know I don't know your entire situation, but did you talk to her about your descision to set a boundary before you reminded her of her past infidelity?

Is it possible the reason she disappears is that she needs some space, hence no contact?

Could it be that she is not cheating, but there is another explaination she's not comfortable talking to you about?

I'm not trying to be a butt. Honest. Obviously something is up when someone changes behavior like that.

I'm curious, you mentioned phone records. Which ones, yours or hers?
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Bamboozle View Post
Ago, I know I don't know your entire situation, but did you talk to her about your descision to set a boundary before you reminded her of her past infidelity?

Is it possible the reason she disappears is that she needs some space, hence no contact?

Could it be that she is not cheating, but there is another explaination she's not comfortable talking to you about?

I'm not trying to be a butt. Honest. Obviously something is up when someone changes behavior like that.

I'm curious, you mentioned phone records. Which ones, yours or hers?
I did not inform her of the boundary, that would seem like a threat or an ultimatum, a boundary is in place to protect me, not change the other person

She may need space, that would be cool

My phone records on my Blackberry including texts

Obviously something is up when someone changes behavior like that.
That is exactly my thinking, it was like a two sides of a wall,

before - accountability

after the wall - disappears EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND.

truthfully I don't care if she is seeing someone else, I really don't, that's not what this is about, it's the "sudden" change as if someone has "pulled the rug" and then denies it ever happened.

Similar to walking up to someone with a beer in their hand and saying "Drinking again huh?"

No

"what, but you have a beer in your hand"

"No I don't" (hides it behind their back)

"You JUST hid it"

"No I didn't"

"YES YES you DID I just watched you!!!"

"No I didn't and I don't like what you are trying to imply, I am a non-drinker and I am not the person you say I am, stop vilifying me and accusing me, it's abusive"

"Honey, I just saw you with a beer in your hand, I am not accusing you of anything, I know you have had a problem with alcohol in your past, so the beer worried me, can you tell me a bit about it?"

"I WASN'T DRINKING, YOU ARE BEING ABUSIVE AND ACCUSATORY, AND YOU ARE ATTACKING AND VILIFYING ME I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE ACCUSING ME OF BEING AN ALCOHOLIC!!! I REFUSE TO DISCUSS THIS!!! YOU ARE AN EVIL PERSON!!!"

"I never said you were an alcoholic, I don't even care if you drink, I just saw you with a beer in your hand, I know you have alcoholism in your family history and......"

"DON'T YOU EVER BRING UP MY FAMILY, YOU ARE BEING ABUSIVE AND POUNDING ME etc etc"



The conversation goes downhill from there.

It's like Monty Python
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Old 09-17-2009, 07:07 PM
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Ago, I think it's wise to protect yourself.

As long as you are certain you are not projecting any possible past behavior of yourself onto her, trust your gut.

I love Monty Python, btw.

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Old 09-17-2009, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bamboozle View Post
Ago, I think it's wise to protect yourself.

As long as you are certain you are not projecting any possible past behavior of yourself onto her, trust your gut.
Absolutely

I tend to trust peoples actions now, if their words match their actions, I have no problem, but if their actions begin to diverge I "watch their feet"

Kind of "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck etc."

In the past, I have encountered women, that when they looked like they were cheating, they were, so now, I'm like, "welp. I've seen this before, Bye"

So I absolutely may be "projecting", that's what I am checking, sec I'll show you my thought process around it.

Originally Posted by Ago View Post
What a great question...I mean truly...How DO I stop going to hardware stores?

I have given this a lot of thought, and a lot of answers have gone through my mind, work on myself etc as I get healthy I attract healthier people blah blah

What does that all mean though?

Practicing alcoholics have a thing where in order to practice their addiction they feel "unique", they feel "special" and that "the rules" may apply to other people but not to them.

They are "terminally unique'

I think this is the basic premise of "going to a hardware store for bread" is every time I do so it's because I feel "special", I feel they may treat others this way. but not me, they will change for me because I am special, I am different, the rules don't apply to me, our relationship is special.

Me, or this particular relationship, is terminally unique for some reason, so I go to the hardware store for bread again and again.

My father told me when he was five, his father stood below him with his arms stretched out and said "Jump. jump to me son" and when he jumped his father stepped aside and let him hit the ground, looked at him on the ground crying and said "never trust anyone" and walked away

My father said to me he would change that, he would say "trust everyone"

"trust everyone to follow their nature, what they do to other people they WILL do to you, guaranteed, you need to remember you aint special"

When I went a few years ago to "help" my family, or "rescue" them, I KNEW my mother ran her life like a business, that she would take from people around her in order to support her alcoholic husband and junkie daughter, that she was ruthless in this, so when she called and asked for my help I sold my business, gave up my home, my girlfriend, all for some promises my mother gave me, all my friends said "Andrew, get it in writing, go to a lawyer and get all this writing"

I said "This is my mother she would NEVER do this to me, she may do X, Y, and Z but she will NEVER leave me high and dry, she will stand by my side, she won't drop me, it may not be how I think, but bottom line is she is my mother, our relationship is special, so I don't need anything in writing"

Well, what do you know, after working for a few years, running her business while supporting her, her husband, her daughter and her granddaughter until she retired, after she didn't need me any more she cut me loose.

She dropped me. She treated me as she treated everyone else in her life including her brothers and her own mother. I was not, in fact, special. When she was done using me, I was no longer important.

Trust everyone.......to follow their own nature.

Even my own mother.

Bitter lesson.

So, according to Dr Phil, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.

They ALWAYS give you the information if you listen closely, not the lies they tell you, but their past actions with others, and they ALWAYS give you the information by watching their actions, not what they say.

for example, If I am with a spouse that repeatedly promises to quit drinking but doesn't, I have the information, she chose alcohol over me, it's clear cut and right there, in "black and white"

or

I am with a GF/BF that has a history of cheating on her husband, and she stays out all night once a week(end) every week, she is unavailable until 1AM on weeknights, what information is she giving me? Do I believe I am different and special, and that she loves me more then she loved her husband? What conclusions do I draw from this? Do I listen to what she says or watch her actions, which is she stays out all night once a week and out until after midnight on weeknights.

or

If I am with a spouse that is unable to tell the truth, which I have experience with, trying to get these things is like trying to get a Pig to sing, Pigs can't carry a tune, all they do is get frustrated with you and you get angry at the pig.

It's not their fault, it's mine for repeatedly going back to a dry well when the truth is I know better.

So bottom line I think is to learn to trust our gut, learn to watch someones actions rather then listen to their words, watch for "red flags" and LISTEN and PAY ATTENTION to those red flags, take action according to the red flags.

I have finally begun to learn that setting boundaries is NOT standing in front of someone telling them my boundaries, or telling them what I need or want in a relationship, but setting boundaries to MYSELF, and then acting on them.

That, for me, is why going to a hardware store for bread over and over was no different then the active alcoholic picking up a drink and saying "it's going to be different this time and here's how" As an active alcoholic you always think if you do it differently somehow the results will be different this time, that is IDENTICAL to my thinking when I "go to the hardware store for bread' it will be different this time, because I am special, because this person loves me, If I can only say it correctly they will be able to hear me, if I only try harder, if only I am nicer, if only I push them harder, if only I "set a stronger boundary" if only if only if only if only

When an alcoholic picks up a drink, they always lose, when I go to the hardware store for bread I always lose.

This person will treat me exactly the way they treat everyone else in their life.

If they are a drinker, they will keep drinking, if they take advantage of people, they will take advantage of you, if they cheat on others, they will cheat on you.

I am not special

The rules apply to me

You stop going to the hardware store for bread by not going to the hardware store for bread, not by trying harder, or differently....no matter who it is.

I divorced my family.

My sister, my mother, my grandparents, my uncles

As it stands now I will never talk to any of these people for the rest of my life.

They don't know where I live, and I intend to keep it that way.

There are some people that are just plain harmful, people with an inability to tell the truth.

Some people aren't just a dry well, they are a poison well.

Every time I go to the "hardware store" or go back to the poison or dry well, it's easier to go back the next time, my self respect is less, my self esteem is less, I get addicted to the poison well and the hardware store.

So I stop going to the hardware store the same way I quit drinking.

One day at a time

Sometimes, one minute at a time.

If I drink, I not only go insane, I lose, the same is true of the hardware store, the thing I have learned is I am not trying to NOT go to the hardware store, I am trying to win.

I am trying to get bread there.

Just give up hardware stores I think is what I need to do. They are harmful to me. Not go to hardware stores and try to win.
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Zencat View Post
Here is one that I catch myself using from time to time. Like when I say I should have done this or that. When I do use the 'should'. I correct myself and say somethings along the lines of: I had an opportunity to do this or that and chose not to do it. It really makes me look at my decisions at the time. I get to take full ownership of what I did in the past rather than making it seem like some sort of vague retrospective thing.
Don't should all over yourself! haha For a really funny movie related to this, go rent "Stuart Saves His Family."
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:10 PM
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I can't believe how many of these thought distortions my ex-BF had!!! But how does addiction affect these? Does it cause it? Is it because one becomes emotionally stunted when they start using (AKA "not exercising the coping skills muscle") that they stay in more immature modes of thinking? Just trying to understand the correlation between thought distortions and addiction.

BTW, I took the BEST class a long time ago at a county clinic on what the process is to dismantle these thoughts. I have the process written down somewhere, I'll see if I can find it. But it had to do with extracting the core emotion/fear from the thought and then rating the fear on how real it is (i.e., the likelihood of how real it was).
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:27 PM
  # 20 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Ago View Post
Her thinking is that I am accusatory and delusional, and that none of this ever took place, and that she is NOT the woman I say she is and that my thought process is one based on insecurity and stories I am telling myself.

I have the phone records and texts for every single occurance, they did in fact take place.

OK, purely cognitive input please, help me out boys and girls, please don't slander her, this question is to check if my thinking is in fact delusional, not cast aspersions on her character if that makes sense. I am not angry nor judgmental at her, just don't want to continue "seeing" someone I don't trust any more.
The facts, man, go with the facts. Can't go wrong if you just stick to those.
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