WRONG THINKING
AND COGNITIVE DISTORTION

tba

CONTENTS

Which type of thinking should you require of yourself?
The cognitive distortions
Handling the distortions
Train your mind
Supporting structure
My decision
_______________________________________________________________


WHICH  TYPE OF THINKING SHOULD YOU REQUIRE OF YOURSELF?

In the Cognitive Behavior Therapy discipline they propose that you learn to distinguish rational thinking and distorted thinking.  Distorted thinking is the source or at least the perpetuation of all false fears.  The only way you can get out of the fear-based living modes, from depression to just not feeling free, is through changing your thinking and accordingly your beliefs.

Distorted thinking is causative.  It creates psychological conditions and fears and suffering.

An example: What causes depression

For instance, an individual will often become depressed if he/she engages in these types of distorted thinking:

Over generalizing (all men like sports)
Catastrophizing (doom and gloom, no hope)
Exaggerating (terrible, worst day of my life)
All-or-nothing thinking (thinking that something happens all the time or never;
   Hearing always and never from another person is a clear indicator of this type of
   distorted thinking)
Seeing only the negative (the glass as half empty)
Jumping to conclusions (not knowing all of the facts or giving the other person a
   chance to explain another perspective)
Overanalyzing (thinking too much about a certain situation)
Blaming (could have, should have, would have)

Depression is a wasted state of being and is totally unnecessary.  It is a result, not something that suddenly comes upon someone.  It is a result of so much distorted thinking that the body is affected and the mind "depresses" things in order to be able to handle the pain.  

The insanity of allowing this

While most of us don't "have depression", most of us do have excessive negative thoughts that are totally unnecessary, harmful, and the opposite of what we want. 

It is time to stop the insanity of this type of thinking!


THE COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS

No one should allow themselves to engage in (and/or be stuck in) faulty thinking.

The types of faulty thinking you need to watch out for:

Catastrophizing

   Can’t stand.
   Never get out of..
  
Addressing this we would say:

   Stop!
       Now wait a minute, what is really true here?
       Was this an overreaction?


Selecting the negative

The mind, plus our training, causes us to select what is wrong, what is negative, and then to focus on it, as a protective device.  We often believe that if we keep it in mind we will defend our survival better.  Ironically, it is in focusing on what works and what is good that we create more being present and more of being able to respond and create and be powerful.  

Developing a trust that our “signaling” system, our automatic awareness and scanning system, will alert us in time plus doing sufficient planning and learning of life wisdom will create a confidence that we can handle all this, much like a karate master who knows he can respond instantly and do what works.

Generalizing

Logical fallacies:  from one incident (or a very few) we jump to wild generalizations.

Things are seldom permanent and paths downward can be stopped and we will not be ruined!

After one year a quadriplegic returns to the same level of happiness he had before he became quadriplegic.

Personalizing

It’s my fault…

This person is doing this to me because I am bad or these people are being mean to me because of something I did.   This is not necessarily true – as what most people do, even though you are in the picture, is merely a reflection of who they are and how they think.

Guilt and shame

There is no truth in using guilt or shame on yourself, because it is simply an outdated practice used on you in childhood to get you to do things, using the leverage of possible disapproval of the “big people” caregivers you depended on for survival.  That is no longer true.  And there is no truth in the concepts of “right/wrong” or “good/bad”, there is simply “what happened” and “what is so” and all the rest is made up, fabricated into stories (justifications, reasons, significance, meanings, etc.).  See the sections on guilt and shame and on immature emotions.

Complete list of cognitive distortions

The cognitive distortions list of Dr. David Burns, in Wikipedia, or, if that link changes:
his list in HealthyMind.com.    Cognitive Distortions in more detail.


HANDLING THE DISTORTIONS

You can be virtually 100% sure that if you have a negative thought it is based on distorted thinking and/or some belief created in wrong thinking.  Awareness of this is necessary so you can stop it. 

List the the distorted thoughts as they come up, then ID them

For the awareness part of this, you are to pay attention whenever you feel negative in some way and then you would write down what the thoughts are at the time.  Use a spiral bound notebook, leaving a space after each thought to write in the type of distorted thinking (you would have printed out one of the lists above.

At the time or later, you will write down what the distortions are in the thought.  Notice that there can be several types of distortions. 

The point of this exercise is to have you be so aware of this that you can identify and stop them - and so you can decide to stop allowing distorted thinking, so you can have yourself using right thinking to manage your life and your thoughts.

Keep those thoughts to use in the next step, which is to rewrite your beliefs (your sentences and your thoughts) to what is true and rational and healthy.  See Changing Beliefs worksheets.

Awareness, conditioning

One of the most often recommended practices is to have a period of a month where you wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it everytime you catch yourself in a negative thought.  This is also designed to say "brain pay attention" a bit more, as the brain mechanically recalls things better when there is some pain or emotion attached to it.


TRAIN YOUR MIND

Why would you live a life with crazy monkeys running around in it?  And, why would you believe them

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to train your mind to create healthy thoughts and to do what produces the results you want in life.  There can be no greater achievement than to master the use of one's mind!

You must train your mind to interrupt negative thoughts and replace them with statements that view events in the best possible (realistic) light.  As part of this, you must be disciplined to put the best possible connotation on the words and actions of every person and every situation.  That will be what we are doing in other parts of this site.

The person who has stopped being thankful has fallen asleep in life.  

                                                                                 Robert Louis Stevenson

And you must train your mind to focus on gratitude and to select what you pay attention to.

Part of this is exercising the power of the thank you…

Another part is knowing how to savor what is great in your life, from a warm fire to a starry night.

And you must focus your learning such that you increase your awareness to the point you have the wisdom to live and enjoy life.


SUPPORTING STRUCTURE

As with almost anything, you will need a supporting structure to keep it in place and sustain it.  That is what a church is to many people.  That is what the continued participation in some self development groups is about – a supporting conversation, a means to reinforce and encourage. 

As in Buddhism, we all need Buddha, dharma, and sangha.  To be in touch with the inner wisdom of the higher mind, to have a clear group of health beliefs and ways of living life (dharma), and to have a group that will reinforce the dharma and support you in your highest being.

You would also set up your own structure, using the Reminders Notebook, for instance. 

Having your significant other learn the things you are learning and having him/her be progressive will provide a very significant supporting structure.   Having friends who think and act that way makes a big difference. 

This website can be a supporting structure if you use it for quick reference.  See especially The Underlying Basics of Life, Parts I and II as a basis for thinking.


MY DECISION

What I will do about this:

___ Ignore it.  That’s easiest.
___ Not do anything, as I’m too busy.
___ Prioritize it and learn what I can as a basis quickly in an efficient manner.
___ Maybe do a little bit, as it is not so vital.  Besides that I’m pretty smart and the
      prosperity and lack of upsets in my life are evidence of that.
___ Write down for a day or a week any thoughts or beliefs that I have that upset me
      and then go back later and identify the type of distorted thinking using the
      procedure above.