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    MORRIGAN11   11,628
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Thinking

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The way we view things, our perspectives as it were, affect our moods and emotional well being. More so than the lemons life throws at us even.

I talk about "cognitive distortions" with a lot of my clients because no matter how many coping skills you have, if you continue to engage in unhelpful thinking habits, you are destined for unhappiness.

What are unhelpful thinking habits? These are the thoughts that we engage in on a daily basis that work to keep us feeling miserable. Researchers have identified a few of the more common ones and although this list is not comprehensive or exhaustive, it will give you a starting point I think.

Catastrophizing; thinking the absolute worst possible outcome is going to happen. Thinking that if you don't lose X amount of pounds in a week, you will forever be overweight and in fact will probably continue to gain weight until you are unable to move from your bed..... it can snowball from here...

Dichotomous thinking; a form of black and white "extreme" way of thinking where you either are or are not with no in-between. An example is thinking that because you "slipped up" and had an "insert binge food here" the whole new lifestyle is NEVER going to work and you might as well go ahead and eat the rest/more of.......

labelling; using highly colored and volatile language to describe someone (including yourself). An example would include incidents where you do slip up and then call yourself a "loser", "fatty", ect...

As you can see, these are all highly connected and easy to roll from one right into the next. These are just a FEW examples of cognitive distortions, and they happen to be my worst enemies. I use these strategies frequently and it definitely makes me feel worse about myself and my situations.

So how do we change them????

The first step is to recognize when you are engaging in these thought patterns. This would include writing it down. I know, I know. In the grand schedule of your day, who has time to write down the mean things we say to ourselves. Think of it this way, the thoughts within our heads are like wet noodles, slippery and hard to grasp. It's not until you put them on paper that they become more concrete and easier to challenge. I encourage you all to practice this for a few days and see!

Next is to come up with more rational statements to counteract the negative ones with. A few standard positive affirmations could be helpful until you become better at it. Examples of positive affirmations could be "One Day At A Time", "I am human and entitled to mistakes", "one slip up does not equal failure", "fall down 7 times stand up 8".... You get the point. I love looking at sparks quotes for ideas.

Once you have these positive statements, surround yourself with them. I am a big fan of art counseling and so I have "bumper stickers" with some clients where we design and color slips of paper with our positive affirmations and then laminate them. You can even attach magnets for refrigerator hanging! It doesn't have to be a big bruhaha though, you can put a few sticky notes as reminders.. on your bathroom mirror saying "you are beautiful at any size", one in the car that says "today is going to be a great day", one at work on your computer monitor "you are worth something"....

In time, you will find your perspective shift and become a healthier and happier person. It's not just our bodies we are changing here, it's thinking and doing patterns as well.



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MORRIGAN11 4/1/2012 2:40PM

    Bahahaha Truereinvented!!! That's a GREAT ideal! I may use that myself emoticon

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TRUEREINVENTED 4/1/2012 12:21PM

    Agree--I give the harbringer of these thoughts--names.
Jessie is my "adventure girl"
Rizzo is my "bully"
Esther is my 'nurse"
It sounds goofy but it helps...then i can say "SHUT UP RIZZO--YOU ARE MAKING CATASTROPHIC PREDICTIONS!!

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AZMOMXTWO 4/1/2012 11:40AM

  thank you i needed the reminder

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