Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Earlier in the week I introduced you to the basic concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a direct approach to problem solving in counseling that focuses on identifying, challenging, and changing faulty belief systems and distorted ways of thinking…otherwise known as Stinkin’ Thinkin”.

My last blog post explored the powerful link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Today we will move beyond the CBT triangle and focus on distorted thinking patterns called Cognitive distortions. Quite simply, cognitive distortions are inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking, behavior, and emotions.

For instance, a mom who has just signed on for a new PTA position might tell herself she SHOULDN’T make any mistakes in this new role and MUST transition into the role seamlessly. These types of SHOULD/MUST thoughts cause anxiety & unnecessary emotional distress.

Below are a few more types of distorted thinking that can lead to what I like to call “Mommy-Manic Moments!!!!”

Magnifying or Minimizing: Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events-discounting achievements or exaggerating mistakes. “Everyone noticed I left the date off of the school carnival packet. This is AWFUL & everyone will think I am incompetent.”

Overgeneralizing: Making broad statements from a single or a few events. “I wasn’t as prepared for the PTA meeting today as I should have been. I am always unprepared!” 

Magical Thinking: A belief that acts will influence unrelated situations. “I am a good person-bad things should not happen to me.”

Personalization: Believing that one is responsible for events outside of his/her own control. “My child is going through a hard time. If I were a better mom, my child would never have to face hard times.”

Jumping to Conclusions by Mind Reading: Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “Little Johnny wasn’t invited to that birthday party, so that mom must think he is an awful kid!” 

Jumping to Conclusions by Fortune Telling: Expecting a situation will turn out badly without adequate evidence. “Little Bobby will surely fail 2nd grade because he isn’t reading at the same level as the other children in his class.” 

As you can probably guess, this type of negative thinking leads to anxiety & depression….Not to mention countless unplanned trips to TARGET for retail therapy!!!! In upcoming posts, we will explore a few more types of Stinkin’ Thinkin’ & begin the process of challenging and changing Negative Nelly thoughts.

Until then…

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one step at a time

Sometimes you just have to take life one step at a time. I have been telling myself this a lot lately as the storm in my life is still swirling out of control. I still feel so out of control. My dad lays in a hospital bed so confused about what all is going on. My mom is putting on her strong face while she is falling apart inside. My sister is waiting anxiously to meet her first child. Hubby is trying to hold it together but I know he is hurting as my Dad is the only father figure he has ever had. My kids cannot possibly understand the depth of this storm yet they are being troopers with the change in pace.

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Breaking Up with Anxiety: 3 Steps to Freedom Through Mindfulness

I am no stranger to anxiety, but I wouldn’t say I’m his bestie either. Generally speaking I find I keep an adequate amount of space between myself and this worthy opponent, but late term pregnancy seems to bring out his guns, and trust me they come a blazing. What is it about impending change that conjures up the fierce fires of worry? Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt it.

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“I’m Trying to Feel Confident”: And Other Anxiety Avoiding Methods.

I met a little girl recently- she was coming in for her first counseling session to find a way out of her fairly extreme anxiety and worry. Given this knowledge of her current state of mind, I anticipated she would feel a little nervous getting started. As I usually do upon meeting a child for the first time, I asked her,  “how do you feel about being here today?” She shifted a bit in her seat, straightened her back to assist her in sitting as tall as possible, and then responded,
 
"I am trying to feel confident."
A bit taken aback by this statement, I responded, “Well, in here it is okay to feel however you really feel. Confident. Shy. Nervous. Scared. Happy. Sad. Whatever.”

“Oh.”, she replied as she relaxed her back into the chair, easing her shoulders into place. “Okay then.”

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