Day 2/28: Moving away from cognitive distortions

Awareness of ‘my issues’ doesn’t change them. If anything, knowing my flaws adds only more whips for self-flagellation when stress gets too much. But I can’t un-see them. It’s too easy and too frequent for things to go wrong, then my thoughts to spiral out of control into self-hatred and damaging self-damning before triggering impulsive, unconsidered and undesirable actions and behaviours to berate myself for in the aftermath. I become a monster in my own eyes. When the spiral starts, its hard to stop.

This shamelessly stolen nightmare art from a video game, Alone in the Dark: Illumination™, shows my self-image when in chaos.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) gave me a lens through which to view my thoughts and see the cognitive distortions for what they really are. This is a more objective view of how I see when I look at myself:

  • Filtered evidence to only remember the things I dislike, things that cast me in a negative light and things that drag me down.
  • Magnification that make those negative things the worst thing in the world.
  • Dismissed positives. There’s always a reason why I’m not responsible for anything good that’s happened. I can even turn the good things I’ve done into evidence of me being bad.
  • “Should statements” that highlight the gap between I am (or who I think I am) and who I want to be (or should be as I tend to think). This usually takes the form of thinking that I should be ‘perfect’, whatever I’ve concluded ‘perfect’ is be in this scenario, and that I’m not.
  • Jumping to conclusions. I‘m finding work hard so I can’t do it. My boyfriend hasn’t replied so he must not want to talk to me, I’m a terrible girlfriend and I must leave so he can be happy.
  • Over-generalisations. I do bad things; I am bad, everything is awful.
  • All or nothing thoughts. When anything goes wrong, I give up because I am a disaster and nothing is ever going to work out.
  • Labelling myself. Failure, bad, wrong, intrinsically evil, nasty, incompetent, unable, unworthy, ungrateful, unattractive, unfair, not good enough, and stupid are words that I use to describe myself on a weekly basis, often many times a week.
  • Blaming myself. I am the only person who does bad things in the world, or I certainly believe this wholeheartedly at times. To my mind everybody else is pretty flawless and even when they make mistakes, I’m sure they were reacting to poor circumstances or didn’t know any different, I can understand and forgive their mistakes. About my own, I’m a disaster.

The self-hatred that I feel isn’t because of the negative, filtered, magnified, over-generalised ‘evidence’ that shows me how I’m not what I ‘should be’ whilst I am guilty of being nothing. I hate myself because of the way I think. If I can regulate that, I can regulate my mind.