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Anxiety and distorted thoughts

Anxiety and distorted thoughts

“Many people miss the little joys while waiting for great happiness” Pearl S. Buck

Learning to live more positively, controlling thoughts and eliminating those that generate anxiety and suffering, can help you cope with the heaviest burdens of life. The goal is to feel more in harmony, saying yes to life, ceasing to anguish you for the future and for what you cannot control, and also ceasing to suffer uselessly for what has already happened and that belongs to the past.

Anxiety limits your life. It imprisons you in a small world, drowns you and conditions everything you want to achieve. But you can win the battle.

Our brain has a very important characteristic. When something for him has a special importance, that is, when an emotional response, whether good or bad, occurs, the brain tends to repeat that same response to the same stimulus. We call this phenomenon "anchor." An anchor is an automatic response associated with a neutral stimulus, which is triggered by the presence of the stimulus alone..

For example, songs or smells are very powerful anchors: we smell a perfume or hear a song and awaken in us memories and emotions forgotten for many years, our first day of school, the cookies made by the grandmother, the smell of fresh grass ... they bring us memories.

Anxiety works through negative anchors. We are "hooked" on automatic responses associated with the supposed or really anxious stimulus. But it is that the brain has another even more important characteristic, for better and for worse. If we do not remove something from the head, the brain begins to generalize the stimulus to similar stimuli, in meaning, in form, in symbolism, in whatever. There are more and more stimuli that cause the same anxiety while there are more and more things, situations, contexts that cause anxiety responses.

The clearest mechanism of anxiety is to get out of reality and go to the imaginary.

The person leaves unconsciously and dangerously from the realm of reality, and tries to escape from a reality that "perceives" as dangerous. And to escape from that reality and control it, (useless attempt and that leads us to suffering), he turns with his fantasies and thoughts towards an imaginary reality, guided all by emotions such as fear, guilt, shame.

Become aware that you can choose to live without it, free yourself by changing your thoughts and your perception of reality.

Have unreal or distorted thoughts

Fighting these negative thoughts helps reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety, depression, despair, low self-esteem, chronic anger and compulsive perfectionism.

The first thing to do is learn to identify the 15 most common distorted thoughts, classified in psychology:

  • Filtering: This distortion is characterized by what is called tunnel vision: only one element of the situation is seen with the exclusion of the rest. A simple detail is highlighted and the whole event is overshadowed by that detail.
  • Polarized thinking: is the tendency to perceive anything in an extremist way, without average terms.
  • Overgeneralization: it is the tendency to generalize in all areas of life, in this distortion a generalized conclusion is produced from a simple incident or a single element of evidence (they have not caught me at work, they will never catch me in decent work ). This distortion inevitably leads to an increasingly restricted life.
  • Interpretation of thought: When a person interprets the thought he makes sudden judgments about others. To the extent that his thought interprets, assumptions are also made about how people are reacting to the things around them, particularly how others are reacting to oneself.
  • Catastrophic vision: When a person catastrophizes, a small waterway on a ship means that it will surely sink. These thoughts often begin with the words "and yes ...".
  • Personalization: It is the tendency to relate something of the environment with itself. For example, a depressed mother who censures herself when she sees some sign of sadness in her son. The basic error of thinking in personalization is that each experience, each conversation, each look is interpreted as a clue to analyze and value yourself.
  • Control fallacies: There are two ways in which a person's sense of power and control can be distorted. A person can see himself helpless and externally controlled, or omnipotent and responsible for everything that happens around. The person who feels externally controlled is blocked. The opposite pole of the external control fallacy is the omnipotent control fallacy. The person experiencing this distortion believes himself responsible for everything and everyone.
  • Justice fallacy: It is based on the application of legal and social norms to the vagaries of interpersonal relationships. It is often expressed with conditional phrases: "If you loved me, you would not make fun ...".
  • Emotional reasoning: At the root of this distortion is the belief that what the person feels should be true. If it feels like a loser, then it has to be a loser.
  • Fallacy of change: The fundamental assumption of this type of thinking is that happiness depends on the actions of others. The person assumes that it will change if it is pressed enough. The hope of happiness lies in getting others to meet our needs. On the contrary, strategies to change others include blaming them, demanding them, hiding things and negotiating.
  • Global tags: It is about generalizing one or two qualities in a global judgment, with which the world view is stereotyped and one-dimensional.
  • Culpability: Guilt often implies that another becomes responsible for choices and decisions that are really our own responsibility. Other people focus guilt on themselves exclusively.
  • I should: In this distortion, the person behaves according to inflexible rules that should govern the relationship of all people. The words that indicate the presence of this distortion are should, should, or would. Not only are the others who are judged, but also the person makes himself suffer with the should.
  • Be right: The person normally becomes defensive; You have to continually prove that your point of view is correct, that your appreciations of the world are fair and all of your actions appropriate. The opinions of such people rarely change because they have difficulty hearing new information. When the facts do not fit what they already believe, they ignore them.
  • The fallacy of the divine reward: In this style of seeing the world the person behaves "correctly" waiting for a reward. He sacrifices himself and works until he is exhausted and in the meantime he imagines that he is collecting angelic points that he may collect some day.

How to combat distorted thoughts

To begin to combat distortions, one must return to the moment in which the angiogenic emotion or interpersonal conflict was experienced. The following procedure, which consists of four steps, will help you identify what you felt and thought about such a situation. It will also help you discover distortions and restructure thoughts with the following steps.

  1. Name the emotion
  2. Describe the situation or event
  3. Identify the distortions

It helps a lot to reduce emotional anxiety by developing two separate but joint skills: the interruption of thought and the substitution of thought.

In the next post we explain in detail the operation of these cognitive techniques.

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