Miriam’s Art now speaks about her anxiety and the progress she has made with Cognitive Distortion Worksheets (Anxiety & Phobia Workbook (Bourne)). I tend to be overgeneralizing and filtering.
In the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook there were four types of Cognitive Distortions. Overgeneralizing, Filtering, Emotional Reasoning and Should Statements. Of the four, I tend to overgeneralize and filter.
With overgeneralizing one should ask the following questions: “What is the evidence for this? What are the odds of this really happening? Has this been true in the past?” In my case I feared that my daughter would get into an accident. So I had to ask myself the three questions above. She was tired so this could lead to an accident. The odds of this happening are low except if I thought she was being followed. This has never been true in the past. While answering these questions I have to think of Rational Counterstatements. There has been no evidence that my daughter was going to have an accident. I am mentally ill and my fears for my children’s welfare are probably imaginary. The odds of an accident happening are very low. This has not happened in the past. My mental illness is still affecting my ability to cope because I say that my fears are “probably” imaginary. But in general the rational counterstatements are positive and help to alleviate my fears. I have to say that I didn’t have many of these thoughts but they are old fears. Deeply rooted in my psyche. Another thought was that things are going too well and that something bad was going to happen. There has been no evidence that bad things always happen after good things. The odds of bad things happening is 50/50. This hasn’t happened in the past. So the rational counterstatements are stronger and it is easier then to dismiss this fear compared to the first one.
The filtering type of cognitive distortion is next. Questions I have to ask myself are: “Are you looking at the whole picture? Are there positive aspects of this situation/person/object?” My very strong and resounding thought was that I am worthless. This thought is so deeply rooted in my psyche that I felt heavy just thinking it. I didn’t think it often but when I did, it had an immediate effect. So I ask myself Am I looking at the whole picture. No I am not. I have a lot of positive aspects about myself. Are there positive aspects of this person…the person being me. Yes I have very many positive aspects. I am honest, caring, compassionate and an artist. My art helps to define me as a person. So does my love for my children. So I should add that I am a good parent to the list.
It was funny. I had to notice my thoughts all week. I didn’t think negative thoughts often. I was too busy with computer work. But when I thought of my bad experience as a child, I immediately thought that I was worthless. Then I thought hard and noticed that I am always anxious and have a feeling of doom when I think of my children…that they will have an accident or be hurt. One of my children was in a car accident. Since then I always fear it will happen again. I have always feared that good things happening will lead to bad things happening. Almost as if I wasn’t allowed to be happy. These are very negative thoughts. I have started reading a new book about negative thoughts. I will write about that soon. These negative thoughts are deeply embedded in my psyche but I don’t think them often. I think that when I was younger I thought of some of them often. Like I am worthless. Hopefully, with help, I will be able to change these negative thoughts into positive ones.
Hopefully this has helped you understand anxiety better. We all worry but a person with anxiety has thoughts of these worries so often that they become embedded in their psyche. Almost like a physical attribute of that person. So much so that they really don’t think it anymore it just short circuits to worry. Then the person with anxiety becomes tired and sometimes so scared that their everyday life is affected by their anxiety.
Negative thoughts can be counteracted by rational counterstatements. If the anxious person keeps thinking the positive thoughts of rational counterstatements over and over again, then the anxiety is less. With practice, I think, the person becomes a little less anxious. Until next time.