Depression 6 The Big 3
“A discussion of the cognitive distortion of All-or-Nothing Thinking.”
Negative Self-Talk: The Poison Within
I care greatly about reducing depression and anxiety for 2 reasons. First, in my experience, both are significant contributors to weight gain: comfort eating is often the result. Second, I want to see people happy, so helping them find ways to work through their mental struggles is important to me.
Negative self-talk is corrosive. It eats us away slowly from the inside out. It takes away our will to engage in life. It stagnates us. It takes us away from the things that were once so important to us. It disconnects and disengages us, leaving us frustrated, depressed, anxious, and disconnected. We disconnect from ourselves, from others, from life itself all to avoid the pain that comes from merely living.
We have to get rid of it, but how? Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to help make living with depression more manageable. For example, a friend of mine likes to use natural remedies such as hope oil. Research seems to suggest that products containing CBD oil can boost your mood so it makes sense that people who feel depressed look for treatments that can help to regulate emotions.
Today weâ€™ll look at the most common negative thought patterns, and weâ€™ll learn what to do with them.
The â€œBig 3â€
In my last blog I described the 10 â€œCognitive Distortionsâ€ of CBT. I explained that I believe that these thinking patterns are at the base of most of our anxiety and depression. What we need, then, is a way of rationally answering these wayward thought patterns so that we no longer suffer emotionally because of them.
There are 3 distortions that I call â€œThe Big 3.â€ These are the ones that seem to appear most often in the work that I do. I want to look at each one in a bit more detail and offer a workable solutions for each.
Who Am I?
My name is Mike MacKinnon, and Iâ€™m a personal trainer in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I serve the Greater Toronto area and beyond, offering 1-on-1 personal training, as well as online training programs. I am also a life coach and weight loss coach, offering both face-to-face coaching, as well as distance coaching via phone or Skype.
Distortion #1: All-or-Nothing Thinking
You tend to see things in absolute, black-and-white categories. Words like â€œalwaysâ€ or â€œneverâ€ often accompany this distortion: â€œThis always happens to me,â€ or â€œI never do well on my exams.â€ It rears its head when we go off our eating plan, for example, and then say to ourselves â€œOh forget it. Whatâ€™s the use? Iâ€™ll just eat whatever I want until Monday morning, then get back on plan.â€ We â€œThrow the baby out with the bathwater.â€
The solution? A technique called â€œThinking in Shades of Grey.â€ Instead of looking at our problem in extremes, we try to evaluate them on a scale of 1 to 10. I went off my eating plan, okâ€¦how bad is that, really? Is it 10/10 bad, or is it more like 2/10 or 3/10 bad? Realistically itâ€™s more like 2-3/10, so I can give myself a break, take a few deep breaths, and get back on track.
This is clearly a better solution over deciding to binge-eat for the next 2 or 3 days. That would make the problem worse, more like a 7-8/10.
Distortion #2: Jumping to Conclusions (Fortune-Telling and Mind-Reading)
Fortune-Telling is a form of playing God, thinking I know how to predict the future. I am arbitrarily predicting a bad outcome for something Iâ€™m involved in. Mind-reading is when Iâ€™m assuming that youâ€™re thinking bad thoughts about me, even though I have no evidence to the contrary.
I see Fortune-Telling often when people base the probability that theyâ€™ll successfully lose weight on how well theyâ€™ve done with losing weight in the past. They say, â€œIâ€™ve lost and gained it back 100 times; why should it be any different this time?â€
The solution for Fortune-Telling is to â€œExamine the Evidence.â€ Look at the things youâ€™ve been able to successfully overcome in the past â€“ difficult things â€“ and base your chance of success on those experiences. If youâ€™re trying something different this time vis-Ã -vis losing your weight, you have a good fighting chance. To retry something youâ€™ve failed at many times in the past, well, you have good reason for believing that it wonâ€™t work. Stories abound of people who failed time and time again, and yet finally succeeded. Why not you? Google â€œAbraham Lincoln Failuresâ€ and see what you come up with ?.
The solution for Mind-Reading is called â€œThe Survey Method.â€ Go and ask the person you think is upset with you whether they are. In many â€“ if not most â€“ cases, youâ€™ll find they arenâ€™t at all angry. Youâ€™ll discover that itâ€™s just in your head.
Distortion #3: Labelling
Labelling is where I attribute to myself negative descriptors such as â€œLoser,â€ â€œWeak,â€ â€œDumb,â€ â€œStupid,â€ â€œLazy,â€ and the like. Iâ€™m identifying with what I see as my shortcomings. Clients will often engage in this kind of self-talk when they have a slip in their eating. Itâ€™s not uncommon for them to call themselves nasty names, because they believe they are a failure.
The solution? A technique called â€œDefining Terms.â€ If youâ€™re calling yourself a â€œfailure,â€ for example, then come up with a definition for what that means. Remember, however, that definition must apply to all who fail everywhere. Inevitably youâ€™ll find you canâ€™t find a uniform definition that works for all situations.
You can also use the Survey Method. Ask your friends if they think youâ€™re a failure. Inevitably theyâ€™ll share with you all the ways they believe that youâ€™re a success.
You can also use the â€œDouble-Standardâ€ method. Ask yourself how youâ€™d speak to a friend who was struggling they way you are, and then make a conscious choice to talk to yourself that way.
Be Kind to Yourself
These efforts are all designed to help you learn how to be kinder to yourself. Whatâ€™s the point in beating yourself up? It doesnâ€™t help! It doesnâ€™t motivate you to be better, it only makes you feel worse, which leads to more depression.
Why not try doing it differently from now on in? Treat yourself as youâ€™d treat a best friend struggling through an issue. Realize that you canâ€™t read minds, nor can you predict the future. And why not try a more positive approach. Try not expecting the worst to happen, or believing that people are thinking only bad things about you. Try to assume that things will be good, and that others think good things of you. Assume the best, and deal with the worst ONLY if it happens.
If you think you might need help shifting your thinking patterns, Iâ€™m available to work with you. Give me a call at 647-677-6025 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternately, you can fill out this form to reach me: www.fitin20.ca/Contact/.
In the weeks to come, weâ€™ll look at more cognitive distortions, and how to overcome them. In the meantime, try to apply what Iâ€™m sharing with you here, and let me know if it makes a difference. Iâ€™d love to hear from you!