“IN THE BREEZE” fiber art by Shelley Brucar
EVENT –> BELIEFS, FEELINGS & THOUGHTS –> CONSEQUENCES
Let’s further explore negative thinking. Did you come up with some examples of automatic (negative) reactions to events in your life? If you have not had a chance to think about this, do it now. What events/circumstances provoke negative, and often irrational, thought patterns for you? Is it -the flashing lights in your rearview mirror? – the phone call from an aging parent? -criticism/feedback from someone at work or from a friend? -the end to a relationship? -a “funny” look or comment from a friend or coworker?
Here are some very common, and very distorted, thought patterns that are counterproductive because they make us feel bad and stressed-out. And these thought patterns are not necessary because if examined, you can find fallacies in all of them.
1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: Everything is good or bad, black or white; there is no middle ground. You’re either perfect or worthless, and any small problem escalates to gigantic proportions. For example, “Susie doesn’t agree with me; she must hate me.”
2. OVER-GENERALIZATION: Reaching a general conclusion based on a single event. For example: “I forgot to get gas yesterday; now I’ll be late; the whole day is ruined.”
3. CATASTROPHIZING: Magnifying the severity of events; expecting disaster. For example: “If I don’t get this job, my career is over.” or “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
4. PERSONALIZATION: Thinking everything others do or say is a reaction to you. For example: “Susie hasn’t called yet today; she must be mad at me.”
5. BLAMING: Holding others responsible for your problems. For example: “If s/he wouln’t nag so much, I would be happier.”
6. DISCOUNTING WHAT IS POSITIVE: No matter what you do, it’s never enough. “Yes I got a good grade/performance review, but it could have been better.”
7. LABELING: Identifying yourself with negative labels. “I’m stupid/incompetent/a failure.”
8. SHOULDS: Strict rules about how you, and others, should behave. “I should always be available when a friend, parent, spouse, child, etc. needs me.” or “I should have more patience.”
Look at the events in your life that you named at the beginning of this post. What negative/distorted thinking patterns are at work?
Now look for the fallacies in this distorted thinking. Ask yourself, where is the evidence that this is true?
To be continued…