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A friend of mine thinks that if she reaches out to a neighbor in friendship after so many years of silence, she will come under judgment and criticism or be subject to questions about her motives. As a result of this thinking, she remains isolated in her community. I suspect the fundamental beliefs that inhibit her exceed these surface concerns.

Whatever her primal concerns are, she will not question the way in which she explains them to herself. She believes the story she tells herself. Were the situation were reversed–if a neighbor reached out to her after all these years–would she judge and criticize them or deem their motives questionable? Ultimately, the prospect of meaningful connection and rewarding relationship gets mired down by fear of connection and exposure.

We convince ourselves of many notions because we think them. However, our perceptions may be skewed by negative assessments that are questionable if not untrue. David Burns, MD wrote a book on cognitive behavioral therapy entitled Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy which delineates ten (10) cognitive (thought) distortions that dictate our beliefs and shape our mood.

  • All or Nothing Thinking: If I am not successful, then I am a failure.
  • Over-generalization: My friend ditched me. Everybody ditches me.
  • Mental Filter: I messed up in the middle of my speech; the presentation went terribly.
  • Discounting the Positives: I won that award due to sympathy and not merit.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: He didn’t talk to me for more than a minute; he is not interested in me. (Mind-Reading) – and – I am never going to get that promotion. (Fortune-Telling)
  • Magnification/Minimization: I need to lose weight. I look like a hippopotamus. – and – This work assignment is too tough. I can’t do anything right.
  • Emotional reasoning: I feel incompetent. I must be unqualified for this job.
  • “Should” Statements: I only accomplished three things today. I should have more discipline.
  • Labeling: That was such a stupid mistake. I am a complete idiot!
  • Blame: The group project earned a C-. I probably dragged the group down. – or – She told me to “go for it”! She is the reason that I wasted money on dance lessons.

Disarm thought distortions through the analysis of assumptions and irrational errors that APPEAR real.

When we make harsh judgments and criticisms about ourselves (and others), we risk forfeiting ACCURACY, dearly underestimating STRENGTH, and essentially undermining POWER. Similarly, when we give in to fear, we likely languish in or succumb to a lower resiliency status. The next time we tell ourselves a story about why and how we cannot rise above limitations, we must remember that we can’t always believe everything we think. And the next time we uncover fear at the root of limitations, we must remember that we can Face Everything And Respond!

If you are ready and willing to challenge your thinking, re-evaluate your “story,” and make rational decisions about your Life, please Contact Vanessa Landau, Resiliency Trainer, for Co-Creative Transformation, and we will invite a paradigm shift that brings clarity.

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