Yesterday I asked your opinions on Confirmed Negativity Condition (CNC) I still am not totally sure what my own opinions are on this – I relate strongly to the described thoughts and what the ‘sufferers’ go through. But at the same time, I find these same experiences described elsewhere.
Today I wanted to share with you something I learnt way back in the early 2000′s when I did a couple of sessions of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): unhealthy thinking styles. I think everyone who is alive will be able to identify having thought in these ways at some stage in their lives, whether that was a one 0ff thing, or a constant pattern for them.
(Remember – CBT is very helpful for personality disorders, for eating disorders, for depression, anxiety etc. It is relevant for everyone – because every human being has traits from the personality disorders and times of being low or anxious or struggling with self image.)
I came across a pretty good source of CBT worksheets and handouts - www.psychologytools.org The following pictures have been butchered especially for this post, from their Unhelpful Thinking Styles worksheet.
Have you ever negotiated with yourself in order to earn something? Or to ‘pay’ for something? For example, you might be craving an extra serving of dinner. Do you tell yourself you can only have it if you do some extra exercise? Or cut back in another meal? Then you have bargained with yourself.
I can’t find an exact match in CBT thought styles for Bargaining, but I thought Using Critical Words came close:
Growing up, my mother was SUCH a hard taskmaster. If we got 99% on an exam, she would demand to know what happened to the other 1%. I took over from her, demanding perfection from myself. Of course, perfection isn’t something we can achieve as human beings – so I was always falling short. It meant to me, that I was a failure. I wasn’t good, so I must be bad. There was no in between. Hello, Black and White thinking – or All Or Nothing thinking.
Somewhere along the line, what I perceived as me failing constantly started to cloud my view of myself, of life, of everything. I started to ignore any evidence that might be positive about myself and saw only the bad stuff. I was a failure. I was horrible. I was ugly. All the evidence I came across confirmed that for me. I didn’t do well on a test, I was dumb and a failure. Someone didn’t smile at me that morning (they might have been having a bad day!) I was ugly and people hated me. A baby in a passing stroller cried? I was horrible! It was my fault! And yes, further proof that I was ugly! I was viewing my entire life through a Mental Filter. A very negative one at that.
Now, I can see that thinking this entire post is a failure because of my wonky cropping is unhealthy and just untrue – but back then, could I? Not at all! I didn’t even allow myself to think any differently though. I was stuck tight in the square that I’d drawn for myself and plonked myself into – I couldn’t think outside the square at all. A post containing a wonky picture being anything but a failure wouldn’t have even been possible in my world. In fact, it didn’t matter WHAT I did, nothing I did would ever go right anyway. Everything always went wrong, everything.
(In my perception anyway). Oh gawd, what is it with me and the wonky editing today? Should I go back and fix it? I should, shouldn’t I? Totally go back and re-do the lot. Because it’s going to be an utter fail. People will get headaches seeing these floating lines. And they’ll start a thread on GOMI dedicated to people who cannot crop properly – something like “Fiona’s Crap Crops..”?
Catastrophising is also something I see in my friends a lot. For example, there’s a friend of mine on Facebook who is a textbook catastrophiser. Everything is always a source of stress stress stress, because the worst is absolutely going to happen, and because that happened, this disaster then that disaster was going to follow… I guess you can say she was also Jumping To Conclusions given that there was no way she could know if any of that would actually happen!
Catastrophising reminds me of this proverb:
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail. (source)
I guess the only difference would be that the person doing the catastrophising would phrase it in future tense rather than past.
Minimalisation is one I haven’t really thought about much, but I can totally see myself doing that. I constantly tell people things are fine, they aren’t a big deal. When they might very well be. I’m totally making molehills out of problems that to me, are actually mountains.
I did this a lot with the eating disorder. I played it down because I didn’t want to worry people more. Because I wasn’t worthy of people caring if they knew I wasn’t okay. And because it was ALL MY FAULT. See what I did there?
I also knew I wasn’t an okay person. I knew it, because that’s how I felt. And feeling something means it’s true, right?
Anyway – I hope this hasn’t been utterly boring, which it would be if you already were familiar with CBT. I’ve found it fairly helpful, myself, to just familiarise myself with the unhealthy thoughts, identify when I’ve been using them (in hindsight anyway!) and also to challenge myself not to go back and re-crop every single one of those stupid lousy pictures!
But it’s totally fine, right? I’m a loser anyway right?
If you are still listening – which of these unhealthy thinking styles do you recognise yourself having had? Have you ever done CBT, and do you think it’s helpful?