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“Travel lightly my friends.  Give up your unconscious pain and habits; they weigh you down.  Accept your birthright to be joyous and free.” 

~ Anonymous

Everyone experiences cognitive distortions.  Not everyone knows they have them and of those that do acknowledge their existence, not many people do something to challenge their cognitive distortions.  Of those individuals that put in the effort and practice daily, the results changed their lives.  Experience a life change by using the exercises below to weaken your cognitive distortions.

Remember, these are not one-time “cures”.  It takes work to give up your pain and the habits that hold you back.  It’s not about giving something up as much as it is giving yourself something of greater value in return.

  1. Identify Your Cognitive Distortions – List your troublesome thoughts and match them with the list of cognitive distortions. This exercise allows you to see the distortions you favor and allows you to think about your problem, challenge or predicament in more natural, realistic ways.
  2. Examine the EvidenceExamining your experience thoroughly helps you identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.  Example:  If you are very self-critical, then you want to examine a number of experiences and situations where you experienced success.
  3. Double Standard Method – An alternative to harsh and demeaning self-talk is to talk to yourself in the same compassionate, understanding and caring way you would talk with another in a similar situation.
  4. Think in Shades of Gray – Rather than think about your problem or challenge in an either-or polarity, evaluate things on a scale of 0-100.  When a plan/goal isn’t fully realized, think about and evaluate the experience as a partial success, again, on a scale of 0-100.
  5. Survey Method – Seek the opinion of trusted friends or relatives regarding whether your thoughts and attitudes are realistic.
  6. Definitions –  What does it mean to define yourself as “a loser”, “inferior”, “a fool”, “stupid”, etc.?  Examining these and other global labels will likely reveal they more closely represent specific behaviors, or an identifiable behavior pattern instead of you as the total person.
  7. Re-attribution – Rather than automatically blaming yourself for problems and predicaments, identify external factors and other individuals that contributed to the problem/challenge.  Your energy is best utilized in the pursuit of resolutions or ways to cope.
  8. Cost-Benefit Analysis – List the advantages and disadvantages of your feelings, thoughts and/or behaviors.  The cost-benefit analysis will help you determine what you are gaining from feeling bad, distorted thinking, and inappropriate behavior.

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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“When your fear touches someones’ pain,
it becomes pity; when your love touches
someones’ pain, it becomes compassion. 
To train in compassion, then, is to know all
beings are the same and suffer in
similar ways, to honor all those who
suffer, and to know you are neither separate
from nor superior to anyone.” 

~ Stephen Levine

Here’s a quick review of what we talked about in Part 2 of “What Were YOu Thinking?”  You learned about Jumping to Conclusions, Emotional Reasoning, Shoulds, Labeling, and Blame.

In Part 3, here are the final 5 Cognitive Distortions (again, in no particular order)…or “What Were You Thinking?!”

5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 3)

  1. Control Fallaciesseeing ourselves as a victim (external control fallacy) or assuming the responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us (internal control fallacy).
  2. Discounting the Positivediscounting your achievements or insisting your positive actions, achievements or qualities don’t count; saying anyone could’ve done it..
  3. Fairness Fallacygoing through life applying a measuring rod against every situation judging its fairness; feeling resentful because we thing we know what is fair but others won’t agree with us.
  4. Always Being Right feeling continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct (or pointing out how wrong someone’s opinions and actions are).  Being wrong is unthinkable going to any length to demonstrate your “rightness”.
  5. Heaven’s Reward Fallacyexpecting your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, then feeling bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

What have you discovered?  What distortions do you recognize in yourself?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

You’ll have an opportunity in the next post to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

In Part 1, we looked at 5 Cognitive Distortions:  Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Over-generalization, Catastrophizing and Personalization.  What have you discovered about you and your cognitive distortions?  What, if any, resonate with you so far?

Let’s take a look at 5 more Cognitive Distortions (in no particular order or sequence).  Remember, although your thinking can affect your emotions, behaviors, actions, habits and decisions, your thinking doesn’t have to define who you are.  You can change the way you think and your thought awareness is the first step.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 2)

  1. Jumping to Conclusions– making assumptions with little or no evidence to back it up.
    1. Fortune Telling – making negative predictions based on assumptions about what the future will hold.
    2. Mind Reading – making negative assumptions based about how people see you or feel about you, without factual information.
  2. Emotional Reasoning“I feel, therefore, I am.”  In other words, assuming that a feeling you have reflects the way things really are.
  3. Shoulds – having adamant rules and/or beliefs about your’s and other’s behaviors, which leads to criticism of yourself or others.  That criticism can lead to feelings of guilt, resentment, anger and/or frustration. Listen to your words when you talk about yourself or others.  Are you using words such as should, must, have to, ought to, need to?
  4. Labeling (Mislabeling)generalizing one or two qualities into a negative global, or sweeping, judgment.  The most common example of labeling is, “I didn’t share my ideas on the project.  I’m such a loser!”  A common example of mislabeling is, “She’s such a jerk!   She never stopped for that stop sign.”
  5. Blame (Personalization)holding other people responsible for your pain.  Some examples, “Stop making me feel bad about myself.” “I lost all my money at the casino because he talked me into playing poker.”

What’s jumping out at you?  Where do you want to begin making changes?

As a reminder, at the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Tired of being at the mercy of your distortions?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

“When distant and unfamiliar and complex things are communicated to great masses of people, the truth suffers a considerable and often a radical distortion. The complex is made over into the simple, the hypothetical into the dogmatic, and the relative into an absolute. ”

~ Walter Lippman

At one time or another, you’ve either thought it or said it aloud to someone, “What were you thinking?”  Most times the unspoken answer is, “Well, I wasn’t.”  Perhaps, more accurately, the answer may be “My self-limiting beliefs got in my way…again!”

This question, “What were you thinking?”, was addressed recently in a 3-part newsletter series.

Are you someone who says to themselves, “I always fail when I try something new; so, I fail at everything I try.”?  Perhaps this sounds a bit more familiar; “If only I was younger, I would’ve gotten the job.”

The language you use every day (spoken and unspoken) both represents and impacts how you experience your world.  In your attempt to capture thoughts, ideas and describe what you see around you using words, things can get “lost in the translation”.

Information is lost through “deletion” of information, “generalization” and “Cognitive Distortion”.  Distortion is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others.  Cognitive Distortions are simply ways your mind convinces you of something that isn’t true. These inaccurate thoughts are most often used to reinforce negative thinking or emotion, telling you things that may sound rational and accurate, when in fact, they are not.  Everyone does this consciously and unconsciously.  How you process information provides pointers to your underlying beliefs about yourself, others and the world.

In Part 1, of our 3-part series, let’s take a look at 5 of 15 Cognitive Distortions.  At the end of the series, you’ll have an opportunity to find out more about what you can do about your “stinkin’ thinkin” and improve your rate of success – however YOU define success.

 5 Cognitive Distortions (Part 1)

  1. Filtering – taking the negative details and magnifying them while filtering out any or all positive aspects of a situation.  For example:  You have a great evening with friends dining at a restaurant, but your steak was overcooked and that ruined the whole evening.
  2. Polarized Thinking (All or Nothing, Black or White) – seeing things as right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing, this way or that way with nothing in between – no middle ground.  If your performance falls short of perfect, then you see yourself as a total failure.  For example:  “I didn’t finish writing that paper so it was a complete waste of time.”
  3. Over-generalization – coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or single piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.  For example:  She always does that.
  4. Catastrophizing – expecting disasters to strike, no matter what.  This is where you “magnify or minimize”  and use what ifs (what if this happens to me?).  You see things more dramatically or less important than what they actually are.  For example:  “I forgot to send that e-mail!  Now my boss won’t trust me anymore, and I’ll never get that raise and I’ll probably get fired.”
  5. Personalization (Blame) – believing that everything others do or say is some sort of direct, personal reaction to the person.  You may also compare yourself to others to determine who is smarter, better dressed, etc.  For example:  “If only my boss hadn’t yelled at me, I wouldn’t have been so angry and would not have had that fender-bender.”

To be continued…

Until next time…

P.S. — Want to learn more about Cognitive Distortions and how they may be impeding your progress and success?  Schedule your private, confidential complimentary discovery session or send an e-mail to info@JoshuaTreeCoaching.com to learn how.  Invest 30 minutes today to change your life forever.

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