I caught myself doing something today that I have done a million times before and will probably always struggle with. It’s not something
freaky totally weird but it is something that makes me crazy and gives me anxiety.
Ok a little back story first. I have struggled with mental health most of my life, earliest memory being probably Jr. High and having serious low self esteem and crushing episodes of depressed states that sent me down a negative life path. Let just leave it at that you don’t need to know the dirty details of my bad girl teenage years!
It wasn’t until 2013 at the age of 32 that I had a complete and utter meltdown and after 12+ months of specialists and a laundry list of medications I was finally given a diagnoses that made sense. Major depressive disorder with mixed episodes and generalized anxiety disorder. It was heartbreaking and soothing all at the same time.
Anyways, since then I have done
shit tonnes lots of therapy and tried every medication under the sun to finally find the right mix for me. Through my years of therapy I have come to learn I have very distorted thinking patterns which happens to be super common with people fucked up who suffer from mental health illnesses like me.
Omg this story is getting way to long and off focus.
Ok distorted thinking. Here is a fun little list you may or may not identify with.
- All or Nothing Thinking: You look at things in absolute, black and white categories. You have to be perfect or your a failure, there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of grey.
- Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
- Overgeneralization: you come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again.
- Discounting the Positives: You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don’t count.
- Jumping to Conclusions: Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us.
- Mind Reading: You assume people are reacting negatively to you.
- Fortune Telling: You predict that things will turn out badly.
- Catastrophizing: You blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance. We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. We hear about a problem and use what if questions e.g., “What if this happens to me”
- Control Fallacies: You feel externally controlled, and see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. Or, you feel internal control and assume responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around you
- Blaming: You hold other people responsible for you pain, or take the other track and blame Yourself for every problem.
- Emotional Reasoning: We believe that what we feel must be true automatically.”I feel like an idiot, so I must be one”. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect the way things really are — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
- “Should” Statements: You criticize yourself or other people with “shoulds,” “shouldn’ts,” “musts,” “oughts,” and “have-tos.” You have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make you angry, and you feel guilty when you violate these rules.
- Fallacy of Change: We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to change people because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.
- Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I’m a jerk” or “a loser”
- Personalization: You believe that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction you.
- Always Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. Being right often is more important than the feelings of others.
So for the past 5 weeks I have been doing a new job as a leader and have been really struggling with my anxiety and negative thoughts. This morning I was reflecting on it and really realized how hard on myself I have been considering I have only done 5 meetings in total.
Here are some of the things I was telling myself: All or Nothing Thinking “I’m struggling with being a leader, therefore I am not cut out for the job”. Filtering focusing on all the things I think I did wrong in the 5 meetings I have done. Overgeneralization based on the past 5 meetings my performance will never get better and I will always be this anxious. Emotional Reasoning “I feel like and idiot up there in front of people therefore I must be an idiot”. Should Statements “I should be able to do this it’s not that hard”
Those thoughts are mostly based on a feeling I have, an uncomfortable feeling. I’m so quick to go down those well worn paths of distorted thinking…damn brain. It is so much more work to actually flip the switch and head down a path of positivity. But through my journey into wellness and getting my life on a path of positivity I’m always trying to find ways to keep myself in check.
Some days I can just catch myself others I’m on the distorted thinking train being dragged behind it. Ugh if only there was a magical wizard who could undo the distorted thinking spell that goes on in my brain.
Alas this is not the case so I have to figure out a way to tackle each thought as they come and kick them to the curb. So after doing a blurb on my Instagram stories about being kinder to myself and writing this blog post proclaiming my brain woes to the world I have decided to make something useful and cute and for a planner because you all know how much I love planners.
I think this will help me and anyone else that struggles with distorted thinking and/or mental health issues.