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Tag: CBT

CBT Journaling – 6 – Mindreading

OOOHHHHH I am guilty of this one. I have been challenging this thinking with great focus this last year or so. Mindreading, in the context of self schema logical fallacies, is the assumption I am being judged and I know exactly what someone is thinking about me.

Which is impossible. Not logical. Even someone like me who is hypersensitive, trusts her gut to a fault, literally fault, and has a good sense of people, cannot legit read minds. I don’t know the history a person has that explains some of their thought patterns. I do not know if they are having a good day or bad day before I came into the picture. I do not know, with intimate knowledge, their experience of me.

It annoys me to no end that I read resting bitch face as always about me as I also have permanent resting or active bitch face. I should know better. Most time I am just lost in my own mind or actively wrangling thoughts in my brain farm. Which results in a sour face apparently. I very much need to do a better job giving people the benefit of the doubt…assume innocence.

Mindreading is generally negative. If I MUST do this, if WE must do this, maybe we should assume they are thinking the best of us.

It’s not, of there’s that B who lives on the corner, how about “it’s that gardener who lives on the corner.”

I’m also the house with the tulips every spring.

I’m the girl with that adorable puggle.

I’m the lady with that new car.

I’m the lady who walked home a lost little girl.

I’m the woman with that husband who is an artist.

I’m the girl with all the plants in the window.

“Hey, it’s the woman who loves to water her lawn”

“I think I always see her walking”

“I wonder what I should have for dinner”

There are so many stories I tell myself, I think it is worth the work to assume they are telling the true stories of who I am. If I have to think an expression or behavior has something to do with me, make it a positive!

But I am not a mind-reader, so it is likely that the behavior I am interpreting has nothing to do with me at all.

The End

CBT Journaling – 5 – Overgeneralizing

Previous Entry

This journal we build on the mental habits that can hurt our self-schemas. Last journal we covered the cognitive distortion of black and white, all or nothing thinking. Today we explore Overgeneralization.

Overgeneralization, for me, ties into all or nothing thinking. In example, I am trying to make healthier choices. I try to stay within my eating window. Yesterday I abandoned my eating window completely, as it was Thanksgiving. If I assume that this one setback guarantees failure, that is over generalization. One mistake does not mean anyone is a failure. One day off my diet plan does not mean I may as well be unhealthy til my early death as I can’t stay on plan.

I recommend taking a moment to think about times you may have assigned greater meaning to a mistake or difficult situation. Write those situations down and rewrite the meaning of that event. Consequences do not mean failure.

Overgeneralization assumes a larger meaning to an event than is reasonable or rational. I am not forever doomed because I had a hard day. And neither are you.

One helpful exercise I often use is to segment a challenge into sections. First, play the numbers game. A day is only 1/7th of a week. One off track day does not have to derail the whole damn plan. 6 days on path isn’t as good as 7, but it’s far better than zero!

If I have a negative morning where nothing seems to go right, realize it’s only one of four quarter of the game (day). Just because the first quarter went to shit doesn’t mean the other three will.

There are a lot of small mind tricks you can use to reset your thinking after a negative event. I hope one of my over generalization tricks helps you.

Thank you for listening.

The End

CBT Journaling – Logical Errors in Thinking – 4

A continuation of the work built upon Part Two CBT Journaling, sentence completion. If you are working along with me, grab your notebook. We are exploring the different kinds of logical thinking errors in parts 4-15.

Part Three CBT Work
  1. Black and White Thinking.

    Life is genuinely shades of grey. When you catch yourself saying Always/Never or Good/Bad, is that true? Let us challenge our thinking. If I have a day where it feels like the world is against me, is that true? Is the entire world actually conspiring against my happiness? If I think so, what evidence is available to support that assumption?

    This all or nothing thinking is also an opportunity to refer back to Part Two – Assuming Innocence. Not everything negative that happens to me is intentional. We are not the center of the universe. Most other people, even people who seem happy all the time, have their struggles. Their world centers around their experience, not mine. Is it possible that a person’s reaction to me is about how I interact with them? Perhaps. Could also be this poor person already had a series of mishaps throughout the day that left lucky me present when they reached the end of their personal rope. We all take our turn being at the end of somebody else’s rope.

    Black and white thinking can also damage how we see ourselves. Very few people are all bad or all good. Humans are complex; we react to the positive and negative experiences and feedback we receive in this life. The fact that I am doing the work to be a better human demonstrates goodness, even when I get stuck ruminating about past trauma. If even one person reads my writing and comes away feeling comforted, understood or open to positive change, I have added some good into the universe.

My exercise to to continue to challenge all or nothing, black and white thinking. If it isn’t true, why say it? It’s far more difficult to internalize illogical thinking if I refuse to give it space in my mind in the first place.


The End

CBT Journaling – Example of CBT Self Schema Homework – 3

A core tenet of CBT therapy is the value of homework, or work done outside the office of a therapist. Just as it sounds. Homework can consist of habit building and skill building behaviors, journaling in the form of a diary to track harmful thought patterns or what I am doing here in the website. There are CBT worksheets, literal homework assigned by the therapist.

CBT is greatly assisted by a notebook and a pen, two of my favorite things.

A main exercise of CBT is to challenge our unhelpful thoughts, and engage in more healthful behavior, the result being a calmer mind and a healthier body.

Concept: Self schema.

Per Miriam Webster Dictionary – “a mental codification of experience that includes a particular organized way of perceiving cognitively and responding to a complex situation or set of stimuli” More broadly, a “framework”.

A self schema are our beliefs about who we are. A negative self-schema would be self shaming thoughts i.e. I deserve to be ignored, or I’ll never be smart. Many times a negative self schema arises from childhood or other trauma and has been with us for decades, or since as far back as we can remember.

A positive self schema is reasonable, and forgiving. You make mistakes, because it is human to do so, yet you are still a good person. Perhaps when bad things happen in your life, you are able to separate who you are from what you had to do in that moment to make it though that trauma.

Thinking poorly of ourselves, are having a more negative self schema can make a person more susceptible to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. It can be hard to truly enjoy life when at your core, you don’t think you deserve to.

Exercise – Sentence Completion

Purpose – to reveal the schema’s you mentally operate under.

  1. When I consider my future, I think….. I am behind, and cannot do it alone. I am glad I have my spouse, we are damaged together.
  2. I think the world is…. Unfair and filled with unkind morons. We need more helpers. I am grateful for every single one we do have.
  3. I am the kind of person who…. Wants justice for all, but knows what that means for me if justice ever really comes for all.
  4. People are…. often damaged by the restrictions of their culture. Better when you can connect one on one.

Man, I could complete these sentences for days. I will say my view on some aspects of life are far more positive than they were even a few years ago. Clearly I have a way to go.

I will set this aside for now and think on it. Will resume in a day or so. Thanks for listening, silent reader.

CBT Journaling – Assume Innocence – 2

CBT n Me Intro – First Post

Problem: Assuming the Worst

Solution: Assume Innocence.

How can we train our brains to jump to the solution and in effect, calm the turbulent waters of anxiety?

Exercise One: Changing the stories we tell ourselves that cause anxiety and/or depression.

In the past day or so, describe a situation where you felt anxiety or sadness. Write down your assumption of why that situation caused those feelings. Now take a moment, breathe, and write the story again, this time thinking about how you might interpret the situation differently, in a way that lessens or completely calms your negative feelings about the situation.

Personal Example: My MiL usually wishes me a good Veteran’s Day each year and thanks me for my service. This year, nothing. My MiL is genuinely passive aggressive, speaks it fluently as most people in the midwest of her generation can. So an absence of anything that is usually said often really does mean something.

To reframe. My MiL knows I am not used to being thanked, as female veterans are often overlooked, and I have mentioned that while I appreciate the sentiment and know it comes from a loving place, I do not require it. My MiL also knows I have been having a stressful time of late, and could be giving me space. It’s possible that she is peeved with me for some reason, and honestly, that is about her, her boundaries and feelings and not something I should take personally or try to control. I do not have to be a monkey in her circus.

I find this exercise very helpful. Prompt yourself to reframe with the phase “Assume Innocence” and tell yourself a different story that puts you in the shoes of the other person. Take a moment to reflect on the myriad explanations for their behavior that you may not have considered at first blush of ire or anxiety. Like any mechanism of habit building, if you do this enough, it will become second nature. It is a resource you can utilize right away to help reassert some calm in your mind and body.

I hope you found my example helpful. I do have more personal and impactful examples, but I am a pretty private person. You might find some of my examples trite and lacking significance. I am ok with that. My only goal is to give you a real world model to use for your own healing. Thank you for reading!

The End

CBT and Me – 1

CBT, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is a mechanism of therapy designed to work with the client in the now, instead of spending time and anxiety rehashing the past and the subconscious.  This therapeutic method is intended to reframe thoughts that set one back from achieving their healthier selves.  As I am convinced of the mind-body connection, I consider CBT a valuable tool for physical health as well as mental health.

CBT arose from the work of Aaron T. Beck during his research on depression.  What I find appealing about his story is his background was his training in psychoanalysis.  Often people will come to a new idea without the background in current therapies.  His background gave him a control or comparison to challenge the success of his new therapy.  Cognitive Therapy became Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as he made further connections between thoughts and behavior.  ANT’s – Automatic Negative Thoughts, common for those of us who are impacted by anxiety and OCD, are challenged as they come.  CBT works to alter maladaptive behaviors happening now, not sitting in the muck of what was.

Why CBT for me?

CBT assists clients to identify negative thought processes, create a personalized goal-setting environment with the involvement of the client, allowing for self-therapy.  My experiences with traditional therapy, where the therapeutic method requires talking about my past with a passionless, motionless listener made me feel ignored, like an experiment instead of a person.  I rarely discuss my past issues with anyone, so when I do, it’s critical I have a safe, warm and supportive space to do so.  The clinical examination process of psychoanalysis doesn’t work for me and even now, is recommended by doctors, which is frustrating.  So I have taken my therapy into my own hands, with success beyond what I have ever imagined.

Many segments of the therapy community are recognizing that for people with anxiety and OCD, holistic therapies and therapies that do not require more past trauma plopped on the conveyer belt of intrusive thoughts will better serve the client.

I am that client.

I’ll work through some exercises and share parts as I go.

The End.

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