Irrational Beliefs – Part 4

Here are 3 irrational beliefs (cognitive distortions) that we need to watch out for and fix since they can lead to lower self-esteem and harm our everyday interactions.

 Always being right – When an individual often puts on a trial other people’s opinions and actions to prove that they are right. They struggle with the irrational belief that being wrong is unacceptable, and they go to any length to validate their argument.

What to do: Practice the Cost-Benefit Analysis Technique to list the advantages and disadvantages of this behavior. Ask yourself how it makes you feel and what you are gaining with an inappropriate attitude. This method examines the underlying motivation, which encourages you to be sensitive and attuned with your noble intentions. In other words, the practice improves emotional intelligence, which plays an important role in our interpersonal relationships.

Personalization involves taking everything personally or blaming yourself or someone else for an issue that was out of control, and a variety of factors played a role in it. This distortion also drives the person to compare himself to others to establish who is smart or attractive.

What to do:

  1. Stop recounting the problem repeatedly to yourself or others so that the toxic emotions are not reinforced—question what part you played in the issue’s outcome.
  2. Change the pattern, view error as an opportunity for self-improvement rather than failure—question what role you played in the problem’s outcome.
  3. Be mindful of your tendency to taking things personally and blaming others.
  4. Do recognize that everyone has their own struggles and life story.

Emotional Reasoning is when you are looking for external causes for your feelings. For instance: “I am anxious, so I must be in danger.” “I feel judged; this means that people are judging me.”

What to do:

  • Apply Double Standard Technique; instead of beating up on yourself mercilessly, pretend that you are talking to a friend with the same problem. Naturally, you will be more caring and practical. Try the same approach be a friend to yourself.
  • Practice Socratic Method: question to expose contradictions in your thoughts and ideas. Put yourself in the hot seat and find holes in your beliefs. Under pressure with critical thinking, reasoning, and logic, you will notice how a change in facts can change your perspective.

Hopefully, this piece and the previous posts have given you a solid understanding of irrational thoughts based on hidden assumptions that we can all experience at one time or another. Whether you are struggling with mental health or not, it helps evaluate our thinking patterns now and then. Yes, the introspection, either by tackling your own struggles or seeking out CBT Therapy, is extremely valuable. It helps us live a productive life by patching up the negativity and building resilience.

 

Artwork by Maja Borowicz

Choose To Reflect and Not To Agonize – Positive Vibe Series

At times we should carefully analyze our thoughts. At times we should peel all the layers of our irrational behaviour. At times we should dig deep to gain insight into how we feel. At times we need the courage to examine the nasty bits of ourselves. At times we need encouragement to carry on. At times we need to find solace. At times we need to forgive ourselves for our imperfections. At times we need to reassess our ways of life. At times we need to break the self-imposed rules and replaced them with principles. At times we need to self-reflect. 

Art by Sara Shakeel

We explore other planets, learn about physics, philosophy, learn to speak other languages, yet, at times we are vague about our reactions, responses or mental process even tough we inhabit ourselves. At times, something hammers somewhere within us that makes us sad, irritated, confused, anxious or mean when difficult situation emerges. Well, there is an evolutionary explanation that is in large part intrinsic to our brain. Over Millenials, we have navigated and took action in the world through quick and instinctive decision-making rather than introspection.  However, in spite of this theory, we can learn to investigate different chambers of our minds to find clarity and be in control. 

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine

An informative description of calming our monkey mind is offered by the School of Life. The essay recommends focused and reflective questions known as philosophical meditations. There are three “What” questions to face. Keep in mind that “Why” questions can highlight our limitations and stir up negative emotions, while “what” questions help keep us curious and positive about the future (Eurich, 2017).

  • What am I presently anxious about? Life is full of uncertainties, alarming situations or minor issues and only by laying them out you can truly understand the source of the chaos in your mind and how you can diffuse them. The writing exercise helps with questions such as “what would happen if the lightning strikes?” First, you unpack the emotions and then weed out your anxieties by imaging that they can happen and in what way you can survive.  
  • What am I presently upset about? Strangely enough, we can get upset with anything. From eating sound to unkind behaviors, at times it feels like everyone is throwing stones at us. It does not matter if it is trivial or serious, the point is to write them down. Pour your heart out, be enraged, sad,… Then act as a friend to yourself. How would you advise your friend in times of fury? What are your suggestions? Amazingly, behaving like a friend, we become generous and kind to ourselves. 
  • What am I presently excited about? List things that made you excited. Choose two and describe your feeling by further questioning what would it be if you were to change your life to feel the excitement. What is missing? What you need to change? 

The philosophical meditation is rooted in self-love. The exercise clarifies your intentions and aligns them with your values and principles in life that allows you to be less vulnerable and composed. It might not erase all your agony but it can guide you to be calmer and less bitter. As Socrates summed up: “Know yourself.”

 

Featured image by Sara Shakeel

How To become More Resilient – Leadership Skills

Nobody has a soul unscathed. As famously Nietzsche has stated:

“What does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Truth be told, it is not easy to be resilient in chaos or adversity; however, research has shown that it can be learned. Stretching our mental muscles and drawing on key questions raised by the great thinkers gives us a leg up to control our thoughts and surpass oneself through the spine-chilling maze of setbacks.

Mindfulness, martial arts, and behavior change are recommended; however, lasting success depends on self-reflection. Growth is fueled by practical wisdom and reasoned decision-making. So how to start the introspection to develop resilience?

Training the brain with philosophical counseling sessions to think clearly at infliction points in our ventures or life is absolutely necessary. The process of observing our minds and learning from different schools of thought empowers us to take charge and develop resilience in times of crisis. Like in a plane emergency, we curb the impulse to run for the door by knowing in advance the rules and follow the instructions responsibly. The guidance will shape our perceptions and expectations into awareness, and our behaviors will become more productive rather than reactionary. Ultimately, the self-examination and preparation lead to a disciplined mind that helps us leap over the fatigue caused by unprecedented events, discord, or even malicious situations.

 

Change Your Perception

“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”

Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote the statement, the adherent of stoic philosophy highlights how perception plays an important role in your responses. A terrifying event has the potential to be agonizing or not, for it all depends on your perception. Therefore, you have a choice to experience the unfavorable circumstances in dismay or learn the skills to build resilience.

As humans, we can exaggerate stressors, fret, and run things over and over in our heads to the uncontrollable point. However, if you can adopt a positive outlook and reframe disastrous to challenging, you will be able to deal with calamities, learn, grow, and move on. A positive change in your perception is not to ignore and distort the reality but to ensure that you have control over your state of mind and emotional response.

 

 

Outline Your Expectations

Preparing your mind to question the underlying intentions of your expectations produce a valuable outcome in adversity. Since, the correlation between a challenge, an expectation, the course of action and the end result depend on your disposition. This means that unsettled and implicit intentions, an obscure plan of action or a goal will generate unrealistic expectations leading to resentment. However, the integration of philosophical notions to clarify your intentions influences your response and helps you confront the negative. Meditating on great philosophical ideas to become resilient and recover from adversity breeds self-control. This state of mind nurtures a rational, optimistic outlook to strategically analyze and gain attribution of productive motives from a third-party perspective.

The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.- Gary Zukav

Manage Your Behaviour

“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Sometimes, the end results are unfair, unreasonably, or wrongfully against you; however, the philosophical reflection will help you develop mental toughness. Ethically responding in the heat of battle sounds virtuous, yet, might not be practical as it is easier said than done! Although you choose to change your attitude or consciously assimilate a behavior and internalize to deal with the problem. Effectively stated by Epictetus on Walking the Walk:

 

Don’t declare yourself a philosopher or talk about all your principles; walk the walk instead. 

At dinner, don’t discourse on the proper way to eat. Just eat.

Here’s how Socrates did it: When someone asked Socrates to introduce him to a particular famous philosopher, he did it without thinking “I’m better.”

When the ignorant discuss deep matters, bite your tongue. Don’t vomit what
you haven’t chewed.

When you are told you’re ignorant and you manage to be unruffled, you know your practice is working.