Irrational Beliefs – Part 3

The truth is that the universe naturally shapes our lives through different disruptions. Along the way, different events and individuals will challenge us and push us to unfavorable situations. And the changes will affect how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we behave. Problems can trigger irrational beliefs called cognitive distortions. Here are another set of 3 irrational beliefs to be aware of:

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization – It consists of making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, on the flip side, downplaying the significance of an event or an emotion.

A Magnification example is when an individual thinks that something catastrophic such as suffering a fatal heart attack, will happen. Or when athletes believe that they are inadequate team players because of a mistake.

A Minimization example is when you receive a raise, and you still feel not very good at your job.”

What to do: 

  • In both cases, write down your concern in detail, put into words your emotions, and challenge them.
  • Consider a core principle of Stoicism: “Some things are in our control and others not.” Such as sudden heart attack, illness, traffic, not being able to score a goal, the list goes on.
  • Remind yourself the validity of your emotions is reflections of your thoughts.
  • Keep in mind what you can control is your response and your actions.
  • Challenge your opinion with facts.

Should Statements – the tendency to impose a set of unrealistic or non-viable expectations for yourself or others. The should, ought or must statements indicate obligations that we cling on to, and generally, we get angry if they do not meet our expectations.

What to do:

  • Stop evaluating yourself and others based on statements that signal control and rarely make sense.
  • Adjust your statements to express your preferences, and, alternatively, acceptance of reality is sensible. This way, you are acknowledging that sometimes things are not how we like them to be! Hence, the situation will be less infuriating, and your response will be more sound. For instance, when someone’s actions are misaligned with your expectations, the statement can be expressed: “I prefer if you were more considerate,…”

Labeling and Mislabeling – When you reduce yourself or others based on one characteristic or an incident, basically overgeneralizing a situation, a habit, or a trait with hurtful and emotionally loaded description. For instance: “I failed my exam; I am stupid.”

What to do: 

  • Write down your thoughts and the language you have used to express your sentiments.
  • Recognize the double-standard method you used to communicate your feelings and the lack of compassion or a kinder behavior bestowed on a friend.
  • Practice thinking in shades of grey by rating how you feel on a scale of worst to the best. You will notice that many incidents or actions are not as extreme as we label them.
  • Define what does it mean to be a failure or insecure or any undesired labels?
  • Revisit the labels that you have applied to yourself and others. Talk to yourself like a friend.

Remember that not everyone can reduce or treat cognitive distortions by itself. At times, therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is the best way to learn about coping strategies to deal with challenges.

 

Artwork by Antonio Mora

Silence Is Power

Silence is the preparation to understand the world around us. Of course, it all depends on how we use it.

  • An earnest silence nourishes the soul and enables awareness. It allows new thoughts to emerge as it stimulates a receptive mind.
  • An enthusiastic silence creates alertness and interest to hear and encourage clarification.
  • Silence brings calm and serenity with others and nature.
  • Silence is a way to doze, to resent, to rage, to be indifferent or detached.

Although there are many intents and purposes for silence, one cannot deny that it plays a vital role in creating something better, meaningful, and peaceful. In the creative world, from composers to writers and artists, silence is used to create a space to communicate ideas without agitation to enhance the experience and encourage comprehension.

Artwork by Michael Whelan

Maybe we should all contemplate the power of silence and how effectively we can communicate without rattling on.

Truly, we should all learn to dwell in silence to express our thoughts and engagement. Knowing that silence is one of the conditions within our power to control, this dynamic state must be part of our daily lives. Certainly, immersing in silence is not an easy task. There are many scenarios that we lose the capacity to be silent, in highly stressful situations, in serious discussions or even self-talk. However, the core understanding of the following statements can help us navigate our emotions and use silence to connect with our creative and strong self.

Silence to calm a situation

You don’t have to turn this into something. It doesn’t have to upset you.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.52

Engage in meaningful talk

“Be silent for the most part, or, if you speak, say only what is necessary and in a few words. Talk, but rarely, if the occasion calls you, but do not talk of ordinary things—of gladiators or horses races or athletes or of meats or drinks—these are topics that arise everywhere.”

Epictetus

As a stoic visualize the worst thing that can happen and champion you fears

“Silence is a lesson learned through life’s many sufferings.”

Seneca

You are in control 

“Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”

Marcus Aurelius

The best answer to anger is silence

“Better to trip with the feet than the tongue.”

—Zeno

Stay humble

“Work hard in silence; let your success make the noise.”

– Frank Ocean

On a final note, be present, be conscious as Rumi said: “Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation.”

 

Artwork from Chris Levine