Controlling Cognitive Distortions

My previous post let you see the ugly negative cognitive distortions that feed into my emotional not-well-being.

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First, thank you to everyone who commented there, your rational comments snapped me out of it and back into me. I am not that whiny pitiful person, but I do think and feel that way at times. It is painful.

I have trouble with All or Nothing thinking. I quickly assume the worst, and asume I know what people are thinking or feeling based on a few words, or past behaviors. Example: No one has RSVP’d for the party. Party is 1 week away, yet I assume no is ever going to call because no likes me, knows me, wants to know me, is upset about something I said years ago, everyone in this town is best friends and I am the only mom outside the loop.

Wow, see how thoughts build and spiral, mentally attacking myself? No wonder I cried. I am my own bully. I guess my dad fed those thoughts to me daily, so it is hard to stop them from forming. When I recognize them, I can easily stop them, but when too many things happen, or it involves my kids, the reactions are stronger. My mommy protection kicks in and sends those negative thoughts into overload.

So I am always having to examine my thoughts and reactions for various cognitive distortions, which my excellent therapist has pointed out over the years. I can see them now, but can’t always prevent them.

Problem is, I just realized from reading your comments, is that my husband FEEDS my cognitive distortions. His support to me that night was to agree with me, that we were outsiders in this town and would never be accepted. He feeds into my built-in feelings of no self-worth. Not good. Not good at all. I’m hoping now maybe he just didn’t want to argue with me, but even as I type it, I know it isn’t true. He actually brought up other examples of when sis-in-law has hurt us, and he told me about the grandma jealousy issue. I wouldn’t have known that. He was the one on the phone with his brother, hearing sis-in-law in the background saying the play place I selected is too germy this time of year and she wasn’t sure if she could let the kids go.

It is exhausting to always second-guess my own warped reactions. I wonder if it will ever get easier, or will I always have to look at myself through my dad’s eyes first? And I think my mom helped here a bit, as she scolded and punished us any time we interrupted adults speaking. It was probably not excessive, using my own mom experience now, but in the frame work of my dad feeding me lies that mom hated me, it was further proof. I would sit there silently, while she chatted with friends, waiting for some gap in the conversation so I could speak without interrupting them. I do the same thing now, when I am with a group of adults, I can not interrupt, can not add my thoughts to the conversation unless they directly ask me.

See, I am not shy. Not shy at all. NO fear of performance or public-speaking – I know it is my turn then. But I have an underlying fear that I am bothersome when in natural everyday chit chats.

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5 thoughts on “Controlling Cognitive Distortions

  1. All or nothing and then awfulizing. I was trained well. It’s really hard to change those old habits that so easily slip into place, no matter how many times I tell myself I’m not going there again! I’m learning to be gentle with myself. I spent my formative years being taught the lies; it’s going to take a while to unravel them. I’m not sure I’ll ever be free of them completely. Funnily enough, it was my mom who loved to tell the story of the science conference, and the man who presented the idea that if you are taught a lie first, you will always have to dismiss the lie even if you know for a fact what the truth is. All the other scientists thought he was ridiculous, after all, once you knew the truth, you knew. He waited for them to finish their grumbling, and then asked, “What is the moon made of?” The room erupted into laughter because these were scientists who had handled moon rocks, and yet the first thought was “green cheese.” They had to move past the lie first. You’re taking the important steps of recognizing the lies. Too many never even bother to go that far. Go you!

    • I love that moon example. Thank you for this. I find those old habits and ways of thinking slip back more in times of stress, which is exactly when I wish they wouldn’t. I think I need some more tools for recognizing the thoughts, then stopping them before the awfulizing, as you put it. Stopping that spiral I think is key, but how? Will keep exploring this for sure.

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