Monday, October 21, 2013

If it's good, I'm gonna ignore it!

Well, it's been a few days.  Howzabout we talk about the Mental Filter category of cognitive distortions today?  Your mental filter helps you pay attention to only certain types of evidence.  Remembering failures but none of your successes.  This goes along with another one, called Disqualifying the Positive.  You might feel unloved, despite the fact that evidence shows you have many people who love you -- or you might feel somehow undeserving of that love.  Somehow it doesn't count, even though it's a fact.  Ignoring the fact that you are loved because you feel unloved does yourself a big disservice.  Or you might think you haven't done anything right, because you made a minor error on something.  What about the millions of things you haven't done wrong?

When I said to myself that every major decision I ever made was a bad one, boy oh boy, was I ever disqualifying the positive, and ignoring all evidence that showed that I was misrepresenting myself to myself.  The feelings of hopelessness engulfed me entirely.  When I reviewed the evidence and it turned out my feelings were based on misinformation, I felt entirely better.

The trick is, as I've said, to try to figure out the thought that came right before the feeling.  Write it down. Then see what sorts of cognitive distortions are involved.  Rewrite the thought, based on evidence, removing the cognitive distortions, and see if that is more true.  For example:  I may get a text from a friend that says that she can't make it to the movies tonight after all.  I don't know why, but I may assume that it has something to do with me (as opposed to a million other reasons), and start to think that maybe that friend is withdrawing from me.  Next, I start to filter out all the times that friend, and other friends, have gone out to the movies and drinks and dinner and other stuff, and start to only remember the times that people haven't been able to go out.  Now I'm starting to feel like a pariah -- not based on evidence, but assuming the worst.  I might even start to isolate, which just makes it seem worse.  If no one comes to save me from my self-imposed exile, then they don't love me.  No one loves me! I have no friends!  (I've done this; I know how it goes!)  You could rewrite the whole thing to say that my friend certainly had something more pressing to do, and it could be anything -- or she just didn't feel well.  I'm glad she feels comfortable enough with me to know she can change plans when she needs to and not feel obliged to go when it would be difficult for her.

It's possible that you have someone in your life that feeds these feelings of self-loathing, someone who knows which buttons to push to trigger these feelings in you.  If that's the case, you're giving all your power away to someone who is hell-bent on hurting you.  You don't need to be hurt by that, though.  That person may be working out his or her script, but you're not obliged to play along.  You can be in your adult mind and say, nope, not going to play those games.  That's the other person's thing; it's not mine.  (Yes, been there too!)

Meanwhile, on a personal note, the struggle continues.  It's not people I'm having trouble with as much as it is this intense relationship with food -- which is, of course, an intense relationship with myself.  It's daunting, but very interesting to peel away some of these layers.  I'll talk about that later.  It's an adventure, to be sure!


Nathan Davis said...

Well said!

Wincey said...

Thanks :)

Jen said...

I have a friend that kept inviting me out, and the fact that I couldn't go had various reasons. A lot of them were that I had previous plans. I felt awful about being busy every time she called. I never realized how busy I am!