With ever-changing and growing relationships, constant pressure from work and obligations, and this toxic environment surrounding us with messages of bottling up what’s inside, it is easy to become trapped. Trapped individuals then look for ways to escape or find some peace of mind. I don’t need to go into the rising drug epidemic, rampant porn industry, and constant eating and binge-watching shows in this country to convince you of where many trapped individuals find themselves.
Then the labeling kicks in. What we know is clearly destructive behavior and further sapping us of life, but the pain we face each day becomes ever more daunting and the “quick fix” is usually a screen away, so we take the quick relief.
Depression isn’t rising in this country for unknown reasons. The glaring culprits are right in front of our eyes. When was the last time you truly felt heard in a conversation? When was the last time you truly gave someone your full attention. If we’re being honest with ourselves, if this does happen, it happens very infrequently. And yes, we can dilute the effect. We can say it doesn’t bother us as we add a new Facebook friend or post a new story of us driving to Starbucks, but isolation and disconnection is there.
Nothing. Nothing. Will ever make up for a good conversation, a loving, engrossing hug, the feeling that we are growing inside ourselves. And with that last point, I would like to make a quick note. All these self-help books are preaching “loving yourself”, and that is a good message to spread, but I believe it has become this competition held among us now and this constant inner monologue of loving yourself has turned into full-blown narcissism and further isolation from reality. So, love yourself, but look outward as well. Give kindness and praise of other people’s accomplishments and genuinely feel happy for them. If you can’t do that, don’t say anything at all. People can tell if you’re being genuine.
I was talking to a friend of mine, Mario, today. I’ve only know this man for a few months, but he’s an incredibly empathetic person and vastly strong. He’s had some very dark days in his life. One day, he was going to go home to go hang himself, and by the grace of God or coincidence, he ran into a future friend, named Josh who picked him up and gave him a reason to keep going to the next day. I’m beyond blessed to have Mario in my life and I’m so happy he made it through that terrible time in his life.
Mario still struggles with deep depression. You can see it through his actions of constantly trying to alter his mind through drugs, the constant need to be surrounded by other people, and the language he uses against himself. Today, I made it a mission to listen to him and get a better feel for who he believes he is at the core of his being.
I mentioned in one of my earliest posts about CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and how it can instantly help you if you’re struggling with just a particular anxiety inducing incident in life or developing a sense of self worth. I showed Mario the basics and it became clear to me that I need to share them on here as well.
Today, we will cover the ten cognitive biases that are explained in detail in “Feeling Good”, a book I couldn’t recommend more and only costs a few dollars. It was recommended to me by my psychology professor my freshman year.
Just by memorizing and, more importantly, understanding the ten cognitive baises, you can become adept at recognizing them in your life and how they impede on your progress to be the best self you can be.
Here is the list with a brief description of each: (these are the exact wording used in “Feeling Good”
1. All or Nothing Thinking: this is the one I personally struggle with the most. Life is black and white. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
2. Overgeneralization: you see a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
3. Mental filter: you pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened.
4. Disqualifying the positive: you reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
5. Jumping to conclusions: you make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
-This comes in two forms
A. Mind reading: you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out.
B. The Fortune Teller Error: you anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
6. Magnification (Catastrophizing) Or Minimization: you exaggerate the importance of things (such as a goof up or someone else’s achievement), or you appropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections)
7. Emotional Reasoning: you assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
8. Should Statements: you try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
9. Labeling and Mislabeling: this is an extreme version of overgeneralization. Instead or describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: “He’s a goddamn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
10. Personalization: you see yourself as the cause of some external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
By becoming aware of these, and looking inward, you can start seeing reality for what it really is.
When I see Mario, I see an empathetic, charismatic, leader, capable of all sorts of good in this world. Unfortunately, right now, he doesn’t.
I hope this helps you who read this and I look forward to future posts.