Saturday 11 April 2015

The forgotten class between Math and English

I can officially say that after my bout with depression I have learned many life lessons that will stick with me all the way. It brings me back to what I have learned in school. Much of it important, yes, however there is something they have all failed us on and that is how to cope with life. It is more important than one would think. Learning these, I will call them tools, would have been life changing if I would learned them earlier in life.

Never dwelling in the past and always looking ahead I am grateful I have learned them now. By no means do I call myself an expert on the subject. I am not teaching it in a class nor have I had formal training. I am typing to you what I have learned on a broken laptop, struggling with the sticky key letter y, I am one of you. But I believe that even I can help change a view, a view changed for the better.

The courses I went through were Stress Management, Life wellness, Anxiety and Emotion Regulation. For myself I was deep in depression not able to keep my house in check with two little girls. I felt the whole world was on top of me squishing the life out of me. Keeping me down. I wanted to get up, I wanted to clean, I wanted to be with my girls, but another part of me overpowered those wants and laying down sad and miserable is what I was, and did.

I would have to say for me the biggest and most important lesson is learning about ways of thinking.

On average a human has about 70,000 thoughts. 

In these thoughts we often consume ourselves and overthink and thus become more depressed.


  • All or nothing thinking - You see things in black and white categories. Eg. If your performance falls short of the perfect you see yourself as a total failure. "I am no good. Why cant I ever exceed?"
  • Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat. Eg. "I'll never get what I want"
  • Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively. Eg. I never get a break
  • Disqualifying the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting they don't count for some reason or another. Eg. Patient suddenly feels worse after showing several days of improvement and states "I'm not getting anywhere"
  • Jumping to conclusions - A- Mind Reading - You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don't bother to check it out. Eg. You feel someone at work doesn't like you, without checking out if it is in face true. B - Fortune teller error - You anticipate things will turn our badly and you believe that your prediction is already established fact. Eg. "I'm going to fail the test anyway".
  • Magnification or Minimization - You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof up or someone else's achievement) or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny or unimportant (your own desirable qualities or the other persons undesirable qualities) Eg. Magnification - Everyone saw the mistake I made I am going to get fired. Minimization - I know it was important to get that done by Friday but it doesn't really matter if I dont contribute my part. 
  • Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true" confusing feeling with fact. Eg. You begin to work on a project and feel overwhelmed. The project seems too difficult that you watch tv instead. ou think "I just cant do a darn thing. I'll never get this done"
  • Should statements - Shoulds, shouldn't applied to self leads to guilt. When directed towards others, it leads to anger and frustration. Eg. I should have helped her more and shouldn't have gotten so angry. (Dont should all over yourself!!!)
  • Labelling - Instead of describing an error, you attach a negative label to yourself. When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a label to him. Eg. "Im a loser", he/she is lazy.
  • Personalization - You see yourself as the cause of some negative external even which in fact you're not primarily responsible for. Eg. Your date calls you at the last minute to cancel out because of illness. You feel angry and disappointed because you think. "I'm getting jilted. What did I do to foul things up."

All or nothing thinking is something I struggled with my whole life and never knew that it was a thinking error. I was consumed thinking about what needed to be done in my house. My daughters clothes need to be sorted, my room cleaned, basement organized, dishes, vacuuming. It never occurred to me that it does not all have to be done at once. Why did I ever think that I can sort the clothes one day, and it isn't the end of the world if the other stuff isn't all done. It was a hard struggle.
If you struggle with this one, it is great practice to learn that it can be done in steps and it doesn't HAVE to be done right now and all of it.

Read through them again and reflect them to your life. Are you using thinking errors? I am sure most of us are. Keep in mind when these thoughts jump into your head to remember this list. Print it out, carry it with you if need be.


Wow, this is a HUGE one. I cannot tell you how much I abused this. My example is my body image. I would walk by a window or a mirror and think "omg how sick". How is that supposed to make someone feel inside? I never felt good after telling myself these things, how would anyone?
 It is about learning to stop that negative self talk the moment you realize you are doing it. In my case, I still do not like seeing my reflection in the mirror, but I no longer tell my self "ugh disgusting" or "omg how sick", I tell myself, "I am unhappy with my appearance but I am working on it". It is not simple to rephrase your self talk, it takes practice. But even something as simple as that, I don't go away feeling like a repulsive human being. I go away knowing I am unhappy with my appearance but I am working on it. It is a world of difference to the way our mind reacts to it. 

Not all negative self talk is the same. 

  • The Worrier (promotes anxiety) - Creating anxiety by imagining the worst case scenario.
  • The Critic (promotes low self esteem) - Constantly judging yourself.
  • The Victim (promotes despression) - Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • The perfectionist (Promotes chronic stress/burnout) - Feeling your efforts are not good enough. 
The following are great questions to challenge your negative self statements. 

  1. Where is the evidence?
  2. What is the worst that could happen?
  3. Is it probable?
  4. What is actually true about this situation?
  5. So what if.......?
  6. How would this be so terrible
  7. Am I confusing a thought with a fact?
  8. Am I being honest?
  9. Would my argument stand up in a court of law
  10. How do I know that this is true?

I have been confronted by my group leader once when I said I feel hideous. She asked me where is the proof? Where is the evidence? Do you walk by people and they say "She is hideous? Do they point and comment? They went around the room about what people see about me. The evidence is not there. I am in fact am not hideous. And in fact hideous is a horrible negative self talk judgment upon ones self. What is hideous? When I think about it, I have never met a human being who I would honestly call hideous. 

What you allow is what will continue

I have come to remind myself and others of something I truly believe. 

What others think of you is one persons opinion, NOT fact!



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1 comment:

  1. Brilliant stuff Susan! This is exactly right! I know this! I am sadly still struggling with being "The critic" and self worth.... I've gotten over so much but this is the thing that got damaged the takes the longest to heal i guess. That's also probably why I doubt myself so much and am in shock that people like my blog lol.

    Angela at xx


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