How else can our perceptions be distorted? Again, because of these wrong beliefs and interpretations of the world, we succumb to pain and misery. To be mentally healthy, it is important that we begin to be aware of them and their powerful influence over our lives.
FALLACIOUS THINKING is one cognitive distortion. And it can appear in several forms. For instance, when we see ourselves as a helpless victim of fate, then we feel externally controlled. The fallacy of internal control on the other hand is when we assume the responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. When they are not happy, we ask,â€ Is it because of something I did?â€
The FALLACY OF FAIRNESS is another warped thinking.Â When we feel resentful because we think we know what is fair but other people wonâ€™t agree with us. But reality is, things will not always work out in our favor even when we think they should.
BLAMING is another cognitive distortion. We hold other people responsible for our pain. Again, reality is nobody can â€œmakeâ€ us feel any particular way â€“ only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.
Are you bound by â€œshouldâ€ and â€œmustsâ€? A prominent psychologist calls this thinking MUSTURBATION. We have ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. When they break the rules, we become angry and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. To follow rules is not bad but when it becomes our sole motivation, then such thinking is questionable.
EMOTIONAL REASONING is believing that what we feel must be automatically true. If we feel dumb and stupid then we must be dumb and stupid. We assume that our unhealthy emotions reflect the way things really are. â€œ I feel it, therefore it must be trueâ€ is its dictum.
Another cognitive distortion is the thinking of BEING ALWAYS RIGHT. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness.Â If I argue with my wife disregarding how she feels as long as I win the argument, then I am engaging in this cognitive distortion. Being right is often more important than the feelings of others, even loved ones.
Lastly, when we expect our sacrifices and self-denials to pay off, as if someone is keeping score, we use the HEAVENâ€™S REWARD FALLACY. We feel bitter and sad when the reward doesnâ€™t come, always.
Our cognitive distortions determine our happiness and psychological health. It affects our perception of the world around us, the people we engage with, our choices, and our life experiences. Now the question is, how do we change them? How do we create a new pattern of thinking that will guarantee our happiness and success?
We will talk about changing perceptions and defeating cognitive distortions next week. It is hard but very possible and doable. And it is the only way to true freedom.
P.S. Iâ€™ m in need of a psychometrician/secretary. Preferably a psychology graduate who takes initiative and is teachable. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)