I don’t know about you, but I have the kind of mind, heart, and soul where I make a lot of associations, as I make my way through space and time.
Yesterday, I encountered several challenging, overwhelming, and difficult-to-resolve situations at work and elsewhere, and my associations with that included:
- other “bad days” I’ve had in my life,
- almost every friggin’ one of the unhelpful cognitive distortions I write about here (including all-or-nothing thinking, negative filter, mind-reading, catastrophizing, minimizing (the good)/magnifying (the bad), overgeneralizing,* all-or-nothing thinking, comparisons, personalization, shoulds, blaming, labeling, and emotional reasoning (which is a particularly unhelpful way to think when you’re having a bad day, since you associate everything with something negative).
I just made associations with most of the cognitive distortions I listed, above, by doing a WordPress search through my past posts for the name of each distortion, and then linking to it. However, there was one cognitive distortion with which WordPress had no associations,* so that one is different (and, perhaps, guilty by association). My association with that is that it’s probably time for me to define that one link-less distortion here:
We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, you expect it to happen over and over again. Example: seeing one incident of rejection as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat and failure.
My association with that? That sounds about right.
In the past, when I’ve been making unhelpful associations, I sometimes write down my associations freely, without judgment or restraint, in order to move my thoughts, feelings, and experience into a different place.
My association with that? I need a starting point, for those associations.
So what should I associate with, today?
How about a photo I took yesterday?
Here are my associations with that:
I take photos, sometimes, when I’m stuck in traffic or waiting, as a way to pass the time, reduce anxiety, and gather ideas and images for this daily blog. That truck shows batteries, which reminds me of pacemaker batteries, which I’ve been dependent upon to stay alive for the past 52 years. I can’t make out or recognize all of the images on the back of that truck, but I assume they might have something to do with NASCAR racers. I can’t read the whole slogan on the bottom, but I see the words “past” and “Built to last.” “Built to last” reminds me of my current fears about my health and makes me think about human fragility and vulnerability.
I don’t know what those associations did for you, but I would like to move on to associations with another image:
I think those images, on the side of that truck, are supposed to be reassuring, but they are reminding me, in the moment, of two things I’m having some worries and concerns about: (1) my possibly needing heart surgery in the near future (left) and (2) the challenges I’m having with the masks on my C-PAP machine (right) and how I got a call from the C-PAP machine people yesterday wanting to Repossess the machine, since I haven’t been using it 70% of the time, which was a requirement I didn’t even know about until last week, but maybe that’s for the best, because I ‘m going to try a different kind of sleep treatment (a dental device) instead.
I don’t know what those associations did for you, but I would like to move on to associations with a different photo:
Last night, on my drive home after my challenging day, I passed by something that made me laugh out loud, despite everything I was thinking, feeling, and experiencing, so I turned around and circled back to take a photo of it. I could ask you your associations with that photo, to see if you might guess what I saw, but why should I waste your time? My iPhone couldn’t capture it, obviously, but that was a bright, illuminated snowman up a tree, above, which made me — at least momentarily — happy.
I guess you had to be there.
What associations might I make now, in this post, to link with some musical association?
Do you have any associations with that or with anything else in this associating post, today? If you do, I hope you consider joining the association of people who comment on this blog.
Thanks to everybody, everywhere, who makes associations of any kind (including you, with whom I am always pleased to associate).
* It turns out that WordPress had no associations with that cognitive distortion because I typed “overgeneralizing” instead of “overgeneralization.” My association with that? Nobody’s perfect.