There are cognitive distortions that contribute to depression and anxiety.
- All or nothing and overgeneralizations. This is using terms like “always” and “never” or thinking you’re a failure after a mistake.
- Dwelling. This is focusing on one negative event and repeatedly thinking about it, instead of noticing the other positive things.
- Extremes. Have you ever heard the term making a mountain out of a mole hill? Or maybe the other end, saying, “it’s no big deal” when it really is?
- Should view. This is where you have an idea of how something “should be” and find it difficult to forgive or be flexible when it doesn’t turn out that way.
- Self-attack. This is when you feel everything is your fault, even things out of your control.
- Comparison. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Your life has no comparison to someone else. Everyone fights their own battles.
- Future telling. Making a prediction about how your future will be. “I will always be_____”
- Labeling. Name calling but claiming them as facts. “fat” “lazy” “loser”
- Jumping to conclusions. “She cancelled our lunch date, she must not want to be friends with her, I must have done something to upset her.
We want to have a balanced thinking pattern using reason and emotion. Looking at how it affects you, your feelings, and creating a plan to cope/solve the issue, is the most ideal. Remember, it is important to accept your feelinggood or bad, but how we respond to it is what can sometimes hurt us more.
How do you learn something new? Two ways: 1. Relating it to something you already know, and 2. Repetition.
For example, When learning to tie your shoes, you may have been taught, “bunny ears.” If I asked you to tie your shoes right now, you would do so without thinking twice about how, however when you were first learning, you would mess up and have to try over and over until it became a habit. Imagine giving up back then, instead of patiently repeating the steps over and over.. Life would be different.
Yes, I get it, that’s shoe tying and you have bigger problems. Apply this principle. When you are going to learn something new, it takes time, repetition, and most of all, the understanding that you are not an expert on the first day. Look ahead though and know that if you stick to it, you will be able to think better with ease!
The first step to breaking down the mental barriers is by acknowledging that you have control over your mind.
Close your eyes and imagine that inside your brain are dozens of workers sending and receiving messages in a mail room. These workers tend to work automatically, but at any time, you can control the large tv in the middle of the room and change what they are doing. You can send a memo to change the messages they send out. Keeping your eyes closed, think about putting an image on that tv in your head. Anything you want, for instancea butterfly. I can close my eyes and imagine a black and orange butterfly on the tv. I can make it flutter through a field, and I can add whatever else I want to this movie in my mind.
Give it a try.
You’re probably wondering, if I have control over my mind, then why do I feel hopeless and helpless?
Remember what I said about tunnel vision? When you are in a stressful situation, you might be experiencing tunnel vision and have difficulty seeing a hopeful outcome, but it is possible to break down that barrier and work through the stress.