Posts Tagged With: overgeneralization

Day 2299: Cognitive Distortions

Regular readers of this blog know I often write about the cognitive distortions described by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including overgeneralization, mind reading, catastrophizing, personalization, comparisons, shoulds, and labeling/name-calling. Regular readers of this blog do NOT know that I soon will be performing my latest original song (titled “Nobody’s Perfect” and co-written with a Social Work intern at work named Nat) with other musicians, and we’re thinking of calling ourselves “The Cognitive Distortions.”

Last night, my boyfriend Michael and I were experiencing cognitive distortions when we were both making overgeneralizations about human beings.  Our cognitive distortions have increased since the last U.S. Presidential election as we both try to make sense of the human behavior described in the media, by cognitively debating and trying to understand what people are really like and why they say what they say and do what they do.

Do you see any cognitive distortions in this part of our discussion last night?

Michael:  I think people who say “I believe in him” or “I believe in that” know, on some level, that those things are not true.

Me: Michael, this is the same disagreement we constantly have. I think that a lot of  people really believe what they say. How do you know what they really believe?  That’s overgeneralization and mind reading.

Michael:  How do YOU know what they really believe?

Me: I don’t really know, but I’ve encountered so many people in individual and group therapy who seem to really believe what they say they believe.

Michael: And I’ve encountered thousands of people through my work in the food industry.

Me: THOUSANDS?

Michael: Let me tell you a story that sums up my experience of people. There was this woman I used to work with. One day, somebody asked her if she believed in ghosts.  She said, “No.” And then she added, “But I’ve seen one.”

Me (laughing): I’m putting that in tomorrow’s blog.

Do you see any cognitive distortions in today’s photos?

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I just searched YouTube for “cognitive distortions” to see if any musical group already has that name.  This is what I found:

Feel free to express your cognitions and feelings about Cognitive Distortions, below.

Thanks and appreciation to all who helped me express the cognitive distortions in today’s post and — of course! — thanks and appreciation to YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 1486: You don’t want to do that

I don’t want to do overgeneralization (or any other cognitive distortion), but most people don’t want others to tell them what they do want or don’t want to do.

I don’t want to break confidentiality, so I won’t identify the person in therapy yesterday who expressed frustration with a family member who tells others what they want, don’t want, or otherwise experience.

I don’t want to brag, but two years ago I made a t-shirt that says, “The Expert on My Own Experience.” I don’t want to give that t-shirt away, but I think my therapy patient could use that t-shirt, especially when dealing with that opinionated family member.

I don’t want to be too negative about the near future, but I posted this on Facebook last night:

I survived open heart surgery, but how will my heart survive the next four years?

You don’t want to miss  all my photos from yesterday:

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You don’t want to pay $20,078.33 for heart surgery, especially when that charge is the result of somebody entering the wrong diagnostic code.

 

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You don’t want to live on Nathan Lane, because that would be uncomfortable for both of you.

You don’t want to watch Nathan Lane in Stephen Sondheim‘s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum?  Then don’t.

 

You don’t want to leave a comment for this post? That’s okay, too.

You don’t want to go too long without expressing gratitude, so I want to thank everyone who helped me create this post and you — of course! — for wanting to visit here, now.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 82: The Equal Time Rule

Years ago, I made up a “rule” for myself, to deal with my (human) tendency to focus on the negatives. If you’re like me in this way (and most people I meet seem to be), you automatically zero in on whatever isn’t “right” — possible sources of future trouble, critical comments, negative people, the “fly in the ointment,” mistakes, and so on.

As I’ve written in this blog before, this makes sense, purely from a survival standpoint. If there’s danger out there, it’s helpful for our bodies and minds to focus on that.  If everything else is idyllic and safe, but there’s a potentially dangerous creature strolling by, that’s going to get all of our (and our ancient ancestors’) attention.

But this survival instinct can screw us up. It can cause us to over-emphasize the negative while dismissing the positive — reducing our joy, interfering with connections to others, and promoting worry and regret.

Several Cognitive Distortions (listed here), relate to that, including:

Negative filtering (also known as “Disqualifying the positive”).
This is when we focus on the negative, and filter out all positive aspects of a situation.  For example, you get a good review at work with one critical comment, and the criticism becomes the focus, with the positive feedback fading or forgotten. You dismiss positives by explaining them away — for example, responding to a compliment with the thought, “They were just being nice.”

and

Magnifying or Minimizing.
We exaggerate the importance of some things (our mistakes, a critical reaction, somebody else’s achievements, things we haven’t done). Also, we inappropriately shrink the magnitude of  other things  (for example, our good qualities, compliments, what we have accomplished, or someone else’s imperfections).

and

Overgeneralization.
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.

 

So where’s the friggin’ rule, Ann?

 Yes, I started out this post promising a rule I made up, to help deal with overemphasizing the negative.  I put this rule in my list of  remedies  for cognitive distortions, and here it is:

The Equal Time Rule.  To be fair, why not balance out the time spent on negative thoughts with positive thoughts?  For example, if you spend a certain amount of time worrying or catastrophizing about something that then turns out okay, consider spending that much time feeling good about the outcome. Or, if you are focusing on a negative, critical person and worrying about how they might affect you, try to give equal time and power to a positive, supportive person.

Okay, time for an example!

Several posts this year have mentioned my dread of working on my income taxes (like here and here).

(I don’t know why I freak out, so much, about doing my taxes each year.  I have a lot of self-knowledge and insight, or so I’m told, but I still don’t understand THAT, which I could probably explore in a ridiculously long post and/or another year of therapy).  (But not now.)

Here is my yearly To Do List about taxes:

February 15. Start worrying about and dreading working on your taxes.Don’t actually do anything, but definitely beat yourself up about (1) procrastinating and (2) worrying so much about this, which is dopey and really getting old.   Make sure you compare yourself to other people who have (1) completed their taxes and/or (2) aren’t as weird as you about worrying about this.  Schedule a few weekends when you’re definitely going to work on this, but then don’t. Make sure to feel guilty about scheduling and then not following through.  Try not to tell people how weird you are about this, but if you do tell people, make sure to feel dopey about that.

March 15. Continue doing all of the above, but more frequently and intensely. Note the amount of time you’ve wasted feeling bad about this and ask yourself questions like, “Why do you do this every year?”  Decide that this year, you’ve gone further than you usually do in procrastinating;  feel  bad and somewhat panicky about that. Notice that the worrying about taxes is getting in the way of your anticipating the arrival of your favorite season — Spring! Feel REALLY bad about that.

The End of March:  Always get done what you need to, somehow.

(Note that I’ve left something out here:  my frequent uses of remedies and antidotes to help myself feel better during this process.) (Again, I’m overemphasizing the negative and minimizing the positive, in how I’m telling THIS story.)  (Eeeek!)

THE PUNCHLINE

This year, I did the above routine again — as usual,  starting around February 15.

AND, as usual,  I finished the routine this past week. That is,  I’m done with my preparation (and dread) about taxes for this year.

If I were to use my made-up Equal Time Rule, I would spend as much time and intensity feeling GOOD about completing my taxes as I did feeling bad about NOT doing them.  That means I would spend more than a month, from now on, feeling relieved and great.

Will I do it?  Nah. Not even close, people.

But I LOVE that idea.  And by having that rule, even if I don’t keep it, I invite myself to feel as good as I possibly can for as long as I can possibly can.

Because it’s only fair, right?

Thanks for reading.

 

© 2013  Ann Koplow      (for my Equal Time Rule)

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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