Tag Archive | Cognitive distortion

Unbalanced Thoughts

thinker

Neurotypicals will never understand  the complicated thought process someone like me must endure. My brain is different (understatement) so how I perceive and react to the world is different. I suppose I am lucky enough to be self aware of my differences so I know how to appear normal when I need to, but let me tell you, this process of monitoring unbalanced thoughts and correcting them is exhausting.

Most people fit into the social spectrum somewhere that makes sense. Most people have issues, fears, crap from their childhood and past relationships that hold them back from reaching their full potential. Most people are still free to have their own thoughts – I can tell this in a variety of ways but a simple one is by response time in social interactions.

I lack spontaneity. I analyze my own thoughts and behaviors as they happen, like pressing the internal instant replay button, as well as those of the people around me. I am not free to have a thought pop in my mind and let random words escape my mouth. Why? Because most initial thoughts are not actually my own. It is not my own voice I hear inside of me and are often so unbalanced I would sound insane and frighten or insult people.

And no, please read my post about hearing voices, I am not schizophrenic, although I do get auditory flashbacks, I have a firm grip on reality and that is not what I am talking about here. But when I listen to myself, it usually isn’t me right away, as my core beliefs come first and I have to battle to let my own voice come through. My brainwashing, my conditioning, was so severe, so complete in my childhood that my first thoughts are filtered through something that I must work carefully to remove.

Some of these are stuck points, some are cognitive distortions, some are the perpetual sick and twisted darkness within me. I was raised by a sadistic pedophilic psychopath and a narcissist. I have accepted that this has touched every neuron in my head. How could it not? Some people have said that simply watching a creepy movie like Silence of the Lambs got in their heads forever. Imagine being raised by someone like that. I will never have the freedom to simply let my thoughts go by unexamined for flaws and distortions.

I am an introvert, it is undeniably true. I may also be on the autistic/asperger spectrum if you need a way to understand how my behavior might appear. I’m trying to explain how it feels, and what it looks like inside my head. I’m trying to say, please be patient with those quiet people, they may need more time to think than you during a conversation. If you jump topics, speak too quickly, and get impatient or demand a response, it is very stressful. I probably won’t give you much if any eye contact. You will think I am shy or nervous or rude. Or weird.

Mostly I don’t care. Except I don’t want to bother anyone or hurt anyone, so I’m very careful not to offend or do the wrong thing. I’d rather leave or avoid a conversation than try to form the right response like that, its not worth it to me. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, so I need to go through all of my responses to make sure I am being polite, make sure I didn’t miss your  meaning, maybe you were joking, maybe you referenced something in the news I need to form an opinion about, maybe I need to remove my depression filter so I don’t frighten you, maybe I need to remind my face how to smile. All of this takes time and energy, and I’ll do it if you are important to me. Otherwise, shhhh. Don’t make me talk to you if I don’t have to. Better yet, don’t make listen to you. Get to the point efficiently and don’t play games. I hate being confused.

Everything in my head is telling me that you are lying. Most people are lying about something, it just isn’t important, because it is a slight exaggeration, but I can still discern this and so my alarm bells get triggered for feeling unsafe and I have to pause and figure out why you are lying and what your motives are.

Or I feel invisible. Maybe I am actually trying to get noticed, to speak up finally to people that don’t know I exist, and my tiny voice is inaudible, and my powers of being invisible are impossible to turn off, and the cliques in town are to rude and impenetrable so I stop trying and go home to write an email. Feeling invisible is both a power and a trigger for feeling worthless.

Or maybe I’m fighting the darkness. Depression has its grips on me and everything seems pointless. That’s a tough one. I have to filter every thought and word on those days because literally I want to die, or at least stop fighting, and have lost hope, and everything is so hard, I’m so tired, everyone is so stupid. I use all or nothing thinking, I jump to the worst conclusions, I assume everything is my fault on those days. I struggle to follow simple conversations, I can’t keep up. I feel stupid and slow and want to hide. I know I have to toss out the garbage thoughts and find the ones that sound like me – buried, and tired to core- but me.

I may never have naturally balanced thoughts spontaneously. I may get better with all this monitoring and practice. Impossible to say. But I do know I want this sculpture in my yard.  Or tattooed on my … something. I found this pic on Pixabay like I do all my images, apparently this is in Copenhagen and I love it.

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Hyper Guilt and Responsibility

As an abuse survivor, I am left with a hyper sense of guilt and responsibility for simple daily events that others may not even think to be significant.

I have a perfect example of this today and will try to explain the cognitive distortions and spiral of worry that accompany simple decisions.

I know a famous musician. I used to idolize this man, and now that I know him personally, I still am blown away by his talent, but have been less than impressed with his character and actions towards some of my friends. One of my closest friends was hurt very badly by this man’s greedy, arrogant, and self serving actions. I personally did not feel his slight was as extreme as her reaction to it though, and took it all in stride. I have not written off this man as evil, like she has. I have not unfriended him in FB like she has.

So, today I see his post announcing he will be performing locally with his Broadway crew, and I was super excited for his chance to rejoin his group, as he not performed with them for a few years, he stopped touring for various reasons. My next thought was that I would like to go to the show. It is a group I have always loved, and have only seen on TV. This is the first year that I could even consider buying tickets. Although still quite expensive, it would not be impossible as it has been for so many years. My finances have much improved over the past decade. (understatement – I rarely talk about money, but we nearly lost everything when I lost my job and went through years of expensive medical care, and survived a bankruptcy, and well maybe this is for another post)

So cool, right? I should go. I immediately looked up the tickets and started picking out seats. And then the guilt. I thought of many other things to do with that money. I thought I don’t deserve this. I thought I didn’t work enough this year. I should have more in my savings. What if the van needs repairing? Or the dog gets sick? Or my hurting knee needs more than a bandage? And then I saw the price and realized I can not afford to take the whole family. But then I realized I didn’t want to take the kids, as they would decrease my enjoyment of it. They would enjoy it for a few minutes, and then I would likely spend most of the evening waiting in outside a public restroom as I hear the performance faintly through the walls. So then I felt guilty for not wanting to share it with the kids.  But I don’t want to go alone, and I certainly can’t go with any of my friends that would tell this other friend that doesn’t like this man. So I should go with Hubby, and that means I need a sitter, and that’s not easy to do at all. And what if I spend all this money and the sitter backs out last minute?

And then the guilt for not supporting my friend who had her feelings hurt and the guilt for not supporting the performer. I understand her, but I don’t feel the same. I wanted to hit like and congratulate this man and go to his show. But I don’t want to risk a new friendship over this, and it is very likely to get back to her that I went if I run into another mutual friend. So complicated. So I know she wouldn’t actually unfriend me forever, because she is actually a friend, (I’m pretty sure, but don’t feel like testing this) but it would disappoint her. And here steps in my exaggerated sense of responsibility to consider everyone else’s feelings over my own. So I decided to send a personal message though, seemed to best way to congratulate one friend without hurting the other. And then I felt guilty about that too, like it was dishonest and deceitful. But I don’t think it was, it was polite and kind. I think.

So I did not buy the tickets yet. My bank account is quite low from buying Christmas gifts right now. I will add it to the budget, and if they don’t sell out, I will try to buy them next month. The show is not for a few months and I have no idea if I can secure a reliable sitter yet. But I am basing my decision on those, very practical reasons, not on all those other guilt and responsibility reactions I had. I can not prevent the cognitive distortions, but I can recognize them, and choose not to act on them. I’d say that’s good enough for me.

Controlling Cognitive Distortions

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

Convex lens Taken by fir0002

Image via Wikipedia

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.