In the last post, I mentioned "distorted thinking patterns" as way we "react" to life rather than "respond". So I thought it would be good to share a list of common distorted thinking patterns. If you google "distorted thinking patterns" you will get articles that outline a wide range of distorted thinking patterns. They can range from 10-50! If you want to check out all of them, go ahead and google it. I would like to highlight common ones that I see come up with people on a regular basis as I work with them in the office.
1. Taking things personally: When we take things personally, we tend to think that people's intentions are to attack us. The attack we perceive from others is often a reflection of our own view of ourself.
2. Assume: We all know what happens when we assume! Also, more often than not, our assumptions are either wrong or partly wrong. Try to get all the facts before any judgment is made.
3. Catastrophize: We catastrophize when we believe and expect the worst is going to happen with out a plan to cope with it. It can be healthy to plan for how we may deal with something going poorly, but to expect it will happen without a plan is toxic!
4. Blame: Blaming others or circumstances for our emotions or misfortunes will probably only create resentment and bitterness. When we spend our energy on blaming others we miss the opportunity to take responsibility for our life and place ourselves at the mercy of others and life.
5. Black and whit/ All or nothing: This is "my way or the highway" thinking! When we are in this mindset, we can't see alternatives, we can't compromise and it is difficult to understand others or have empathy for others. We don't know what gray looks like. And yes, there is gray! :)
6. Should's, Ought's, and Must's: There is a saying, "Don't should on yourself!" Or on others for that matter. If we use these silently in our own minds, we will probably start to feel resentment toward someone. If we use them when talking to someone, they will probably become defensive. Either way, they cause havoc!
7. Absolutes: These are words like always, never, constantly, etc. These words, like should's, create defensiveness. And they are rarely true. Try using words like often, frequently, sometimes.
These are just some of the most common ones I see used most often by people. There are many others. When you have some time, google "distorted thinking patterns." Identify which ones you tend use the most and start working on challenging them and think differently. The more you are able to limit these in your mind and vocabulary, you will feel better and connect better with others!
One of the main lessons I have learned from COVID-19 is how people have "Reacted" vs "Responded" to this crisis. In this post I want to explain the difference and encourage you to apply the healthy option not only to the current stressor of COVID-19 but to all other stressors that come up throughout life. This could be how we respond to a spouse or child, whether or not we give into a trigger for an addiction, deal with anger and so on.
Do you "react" to situations or do you "respond"? What would others say about you? As I said above, going through this COVID-19 craziness, we are seeing a lot of reacting, hence we can't buy toilet paper unless we get in line at Costco at 4AM! People have clearly acted on the emotions of fear, uncertainty and stress. They have primarily been "me" focused, not thinking about the next person that may need those supplies or food. If society as a whole would have "responded" more, we would be in a little different situation. Obviously many good people have "responded" very well and very generously in this crazy time as well, and to them I am grateful! People are good!!
I really like the following tool to help us Respond instead of React.
STOP: The One Minute Breathing Space
Share your thoughts and share this with someone that you think could benefit from it:)
Make it a great day and make it a great week!
I have been a therapist for over over 15 years and have read a lot of self-help books and consider myself to be somewhat of a self-help book junkie. VERY FEW self-help books do I agree with cover to cover but most I am able to glean at lest a few applicable nuggets that will enrich my life. Many of them have quite a bit of good information that can be applied to our lives and struggles that will give us effective tools and skills to do better and be better.
I am sure if you are reading this, then you have probably read your fair share of self-help books too! I don't know about you, but for me there is one thing that regualry frustrates me with a lot of self-help books. They are way too wordy! The useful information they provide could probably be said in a third of the pages. There is a lot of repetition and unnecessary stories. I know many people like stories, but there is a limit! So, this blog will provide lists, diagrams and brief explanations of the most important parts of self-help books and my own experiences as a therapist. I hope this blog serves as a quick reference guide for you to turn to to remind yourself what needs to be done to accomplish a specific goal, whether it be improving a relationship, parenting, overcoming an addiction, or coping with feelings such as depression, anxiety, anger, grief, stress and other intense emotions.
Please feel free to comment your thoughts on the post and offer any thoughts on how it may have helped you. I hope this helps and gives you hope that you can change and you can do better and be better!