CTWYF Step 2, Part 2: Spotting negative thoughts that are not even true!
By reading the two Brain tips before this one, you will familiarize yourself with journaling your thoughts, as well as the first five negative thoughts (also known as cons of the mind!) that elves and humans so frequently suffer from!
Let us continue with the remaining five types of negative thoughts that we all have, but that are not at all accurate!
6 Magnification and Minimization: Everyone experiences problems now and again. However, our inaccurate thinking about a problem can actually serve to make the problem worse! Each problem that we face has an “actual size.” Yet, sometimes, in our thoughts, we make the problem ENORMOUS! Other times, we might make a problem tiny—and this means we do not give it sufficient attention. Search your journal for problems that you have let grow much bigger than they really are, and problems that you may have let shrink too small, and that really do need some work.
7 Emotional Reasoning: Oh, this is such a common type of negative thought! I have this kind of thought so often, I could give example after example! Emotional reasoning is very simple to explain. Let’s say that we made a mistake and did something we regret. Instead of saying to ourselves, “I made a mistake,” we say to ourselves, “I am a mistake!” “I did something bad” turns, in the blink of an eye, into “I AM BAD.” Please, search your journals so carefully for negative thoughts of this kind. They are an exaggeration of the truth. We can make mistakes (mistakes are often how we learn!) without being bad ourselves.
8 Should Statements: This is the stern and unkind lecture that we give to ourselves too often! It is as if we turned into the cross old woman who lives next door—and who always has something to complain about! Should, should not, have to, must and must not… check journals for these words and you will likely find a cognitive distortion! “Should” statements are so often criticism that is far too harsh.
9 Labeling: To put it plainly, Labeling is when we call ourselves or others names! Short, Fat, Ugly, Stupid, Lazy, Mean, Dumb… or worse! We know in the elven world, it is easy to call someone a name, but it is rarely accurate. No one can be fairly described by one word. Labeling thoughts are negative thoughts that are too extreme, and very unkind to both ourselves and others.
10 Blame: There are two kinds of blame, and neither one serves us. The first kind of blame is when we hold ourselves entirely responsible for something that wasn’t all our fault (see above).
The second kind of blame is other-blame, when we think someone else is totally responsible for something that we contributed to, but are not willing to admit.
In both case—self-blame and other-blame—there is a more accurate, gentle and compassionate way to see things. So, checking our journals for self-blame and other-blame is essential and will help us change see things more as they are.
Cognitive distortions, negative thoughts that are too extreme and therefore not real or accurate, make life unnecessarily hard. What a wonderful thing to be able to spot them and change them!
And that is what our next Brain tips will be about: how to change these thoughts once we have noticed them!