Irrational Beliefs – Part 2

Most likely, as humans, you have experienced numerous cognitive distortions at one time or another. In the previous post, I highlighted 3 tendencies out of 11 cognitive distortions, and here is another 3 flawed pattern of thinking which are significant in our interactions and relationships. Once you are aware, you can improve and modify the faulty beliefs with practice.

Mental Filter – The mental filter distortion happens when an individual allows a single negative piece of information to overshadow and exclude the positive ones. For instance, when someone focuses on an unfavorable comment or incident and dwells on it while ignoring all positive remarks or experiences.

What to do: Write down the negative thought, challenge it, and reframe the thinking to a positive and realistic one. And remember that a negative situation does not remain negative forever.

Disqualifying the Positive – This distortion involves the rejection of positive statements or events by insisting that they are a fluke or argue against it: “that doesn’t count.”

For example, when someone is praised for a trait or a work, the receiver ignores it and disqualifies the comment based on “they are just nice.”

What to do: The best way to start managing these inaccurate thoughts is to practice receiving compliments and feedback with a simple: ‘Thank you”.

Jumping to conclusions:

  1. Mind reading variant –  it refers to inaccurate beliefs and negative interpretations based on assumptions. We might have an idea of what other people are thinking, however jumping to conclusions without justification by the facts is wrong. For example, you meet an unfriendly or bad-tempered person, and you automatically take it personally or think that they have bad intentions.
  2. Fortune telling variant – in this case, we imagine and predict horrible things will happen to us. Of course, we all feel anxious to some extent if a loved one is late and does not pick up the phone.

What to do:

  • Slow down and actively ask yourself whether your assumptions make sense and are based on valid reasoning or available evidence.
  • In both cases, Mind reading or Fortune telling, for you to remain calm, it is best to balance out by thinking about the two extremes, the negative thoughts, and the possible best outcome of any given situation. This way, you likely feel better.

 

Featured image by Lucio Carvalho

Emotions Are Data, Use Them Wisely! Positive Vibes Series

Do you feel every emotion that slithers, left, and right in your brain’s hemispheres? Do you understand them? Do you even recognize them?
Every day, you go through different emotions; sometimes, you are mindful and, other times, impulsive. You express your feelings based on expectations, history, your yearning desires, anxieties, or virtues. However, the issue arises when you are oblivious or ignore the specific emotion; hence your response to remedy the unsettling disposition or the activity you engage in is polluted and possibly destructive.

Emotion is data that you should identify, interpret, and use as an asset. 

Being sensitive towards your emotional response does not always indicate that you process your feelings accurately, nor toxically reacting confirms your assumptions. However, if you take the time to probe into your subconscious, astonishingly, you can manage your reactions by sifting through your beliefs. Most people do not dare to take on a task as it will take them to a sad place where they come to face the undesired parts of their psyche. Neglected emotions or merely having difficulty to label them is dispiriting and harmful. Since ignored emotions amount to negative interpretations that reinforce distressful behaviour patterns. A chain reaction that can be set right by untangling the mess in our minds.

Art by Mikoo Raima

So how to unravel your emotions?

  • Acknowledge that emotions are part of life; they are part of being human
  • Emotions do not last forever
  • Emotions teach you different aspects of yourself and things
  • Learn to describe and label your emotions
  • Keep a diary of your thoughts

How to navigate your emotions?

Albert Ellis, a rational-emotive psychologist, believed that our unrealistic interpretation of events creates an irrational belief system that will encourage negative emotional responses. Once you verify your negative emotions through journalling, re-examine your assumptions:

  • Make a conscious decision to identify and evaluate your mental representation of the world around you.
  • Re-consider your information processing based on the possibility that your way of thinking might be faulty.
  • Write your assumptions with the aid of the ABC Technique of Irrational Beliefs.

Draw three columns: A – B – C

A – Activating event: In this column, record the situation that leads to dysfunctional thinking or reaction

B – Belief: In the second column, write the negative thoughts

C – Consequences: The third column describes the emotions and the negative thoughts prompted by (A)

For instance: (A) You have failed an exam (B) You must have good grades, or you are worthless (C) You are depressed.

Once you discern the irrational belief, challenge the negative thoughts by reframing them. In the above example, the absurd notion leading to self-contempt caused by not getting a good grade should be re-interpreted by adopting a positive attitude to manage the negative emotion sensibly. Your focus should be on finding solutions to improve your grades, for instance, tweak your study strategy, improve on your time management, and many more productive ideas so that you consciously erase mistaken assumptions and misconceptions about yourself.

Art by Mikko Raima

Occasionally, we settle with our habitual beliefs and negative biases. If you do not manage your unfounded assumptions, your well-being will go through disruption and not in the right way.
The key to processing your emotions requires honesty with yourself. Emotional transparency, whether through self-help or reaching out to a therapist, will reveal your patterns and tendencies. With careful self-examination, the clear-sighted premises will serve you to process your emotions effectively.

Art by Mikko Raima