Cognitive Distortions

I may be on my sixth therapist but who’s counting. I love that light feeling I used to get when I was walking out of the office after the appointment. Like I’d just been too confessional. Thing always felt more hopeful, even if they really weren’t.

Late last year, my then therapy gal told me she’d gotten a job in the big city and we were breaking up. She was really sweet and I hated to see her go but I knew I’d been sliding and gliding with her. I had done my work but I knew there was bigger work to be done and I needed bigger guns to do it.

Enter my new therapist Kathleen who is keenly aware of what I need to do to move myself on. And she gave me some feedback this week that smarted. Because sometimes I need compliments and sometimes I need truth. And I need new materials to mentally devour that aid in my processing.hello kitty pool 2 on

Seems strange but in all my reading and studying up on self-help stuff, I apparently never studied cognitive therapy. Quick summation of this technique/concept: If you’re depressed, it means you’re having sad thoughts. And these give you sad feelings. And more often than not, those first thoughts you had are based on some illogical distortions that you have used to process your life since forever. When the bad feelings “validate” the bad thoughts, you are full circle. Your original feeling must be truth. Makes sense in the moment.

What if the first thought includes an “always” statement or a “never” statement. Like “I always lose” and “I’ll never win”. These are probably not truths but there you go basing your feelings on that self-fed misinformation over and over and over. A pattern has formed in my life that has so ensconced “never” and “always”  in my psychic garden that I’m having a tough time pulling them out.

As outlined in David D. Burns, MD’s book Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy, there are 10 “cognitive distortions” us thinkers use regularly and I spoke about them in Summer’s Stutter Start. Like the 20 something fallacies I had to learn in my college Logic class, they’re like equations that once you’ve become familiar with them, you can recognize them again when they’re laid out. And you can either choose to believe them again or call them out for the phonies that they are.hello kitty pool 3 on

My most popular distortion recently seems to be over-generalization where I see something bad happening and then assume it will always be like that. Three weeks ago, Fiona got sick. Her schedule was thrown off, she was clingy, waking up all night, and generally life wasn’t much fun. The next week, I believe she was getting her molars in. Another week of not quite rightness and I could only expect that the rest of my life with this child was going to ridiculously hard and exhausting.

Those thoughts stressed me out and my eye twitch returned for an encore jiggity-jig. And then the following week, she’s lovely. She’s talking and playing on her own and napping. And I think, “Hey wasn’t she supposed to be terrible for the rest of our lives? “. This isn’t the first time I’ve concluded another distortion called Catastophrization. Or how about The Fortune Teller Error as in “I can see that it will always turn out badly”. Why try right?

So here I am really starting to realize that my thought processes are a little hinky when my therapist, with mere seconds on the clock before her alarm sounds, gives me this :

I tend to look for things I know I’ll fall short on instead of giving myself credit for my accomplishments.

I had to write that one down. Then I felt sad. That seems like such a mean thing to do to somebody. If this was my daughter, wouldn’t I praise her efforts and her accomplishments? Wouldn’t I smooth over the crappy stuff and help her focus on the hopeful skill building fun future stuff? Yuck. hello kitty pool fun from

From an article written by Alice Boyes, PhD on the Psychology Today blog, a little overview of Cognitive Distortions and

Overcoming Catastrophizing

– Mindful awareness –You have to catch yourself having cognitive distortions to be able to do anything about them,

– Consider Other Possible Outcomes
Consider positive predictions, neutral predictions, and mildly negative predictions, not just very negative predictions.

– Make a Distinction Between Significantly Unpleasant and Catastrophe
Key to overcoming catastrophizing is making a distinction between something being significantly unpleasant and it being a catastrophe. Failing an important exam would be extremely distressing but it does not doom the person to a life of failure.

– Increase your perception of your ability to cope.
If you believe you can cope with negative events, anxiety will be much less of a problem for you ”

That last one is about self-efficacy. I am in dour need of upping my self-efficacy. I’ll be studying my cheat sheet of cognitive distortions to help my mind learning along and shove the happy life hot air balloon higher up into the sky.

And for your clarity, you can contract with a therapist for a specific amount of time with certain goals in mind. They make an action plan or a “treatment plan” with an end date on it. My plans are to work on seeing my potential and build my esteem around my writing and blogging. I can imagine many people don’t want to start therapy because it seems endless. There is another way.Doable chunks.

Let me know what you think about any or all of this. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

If you can’t tell, I don’t mind talking honestly.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Summer’s Stutter Start

I truly had no expectations for the start of Summer. I was having a rough time anyway and didn’t want to predict it getting any rougher. But it still did. The same day that school let out, the two-year old got sick. And the next day, my husband had a tire blow out on the major highway. I then found out I’d allowed the children’s insurance to lapse and there I was in the strike zone again.

Worst of all, being underneath a sick and tantruming toddler for the next 7 days meant there was just no room for me. sick girl is still cute on

I like having time and space to myself to create and feel productive and whole. In the absence of that, I feel ‘less than’, angry, and hopeless. Fed up and exhausted from the perpetual waking up of the child and the sudden relentlessness of my life, I felt shameful moments of rage and desperation and behaved in a ridiculously dramatic way to show to my husband that I in fact couldn’t handle all of this as well as he thinks I can.

I then explained that my mommy brain thinks I have to be watchful of the children 24/7. This consciousness ensures they’re kept alive but wears me out and could he please know that I do this and step in and say he’s got them for a while even without me asking? He may or may not have heard this but it was me saying something out loud. I need to hear myself say that I’m allowed a break.Rocking chair hug on

My constant irritation by everything was exactly the opposite of the feelings of bliss and ease I’d had with my family on several weekends in the month before. What’s the difference I wondered ?

And as each day played out and eventually her health was restored, the insurance was renewed, the car was being repaired, and Mark’s work evened out, I began to feel better. And watching moments of tenderness between my children filled me with the gratitude I was missing. And I knew the spell had passed.

And then I knew what the difference had been.

Faith in my life. Faith in myself.


My family on

When I thought about what really tweaked me during those really hard days, it was the belief that it would always be bad. My anxiety was climbing as I was silently predicting a future that would have me dealing with this stress perpetually. And I’d always be handling it alone. These wrong thoughts are called cognitive distortions. They are lies that we tell ourselves and then, when we feel the feelings of sadness, desperation, or depression, we say that the thoughts must be facts then because the feelings make them feel real. But they don’t. The distorted thoughts are the cause of the yucky feelings.

What I tell myself I believe.

I had myself believing I would always be alone, never have the help or support I would need, and that mothering a daughter would be the hell everyone has ever warned me about. But the truth is that phases ebb and flow. Bad spells come and go. Kids get sick and better. My support system was on vacation that week but they would return again.Siblings on

What’s most important is that my kids don’t get the idea that I doubt my abilities to parent them. I spend quality time with them and they know that they’re loved. The sickness behavior screws it all up for a week and then it’s as if it never happened. And no, mothering doesn’t have to be the only thing that ever defines my worth. But I better get hopping on stuff that invests my talents for me and my hope into the future. So when the next tantrum and the next bad spell happens, I know I’ve invested in my goals and my getaways and my hope for my future. And that I’m not alone. That I’ve got my back too.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.


This Is It : Enough, Ok, and Alright Already

After much deep thought and process, I think I know what that “one thing” is Jack Palance’s Curly spoke of in City Slickers, and I referenced in this post about self discoveries. And its way simpler than you’d think. And also kinda hard depending.

I am perpetually in a state of self-doubt. Continually I question is it OK, enough, or alright to be doing this now or that then? Is what I’m doing getting me where I want to go? Do I know where I want to go? Is what I’m doing what I want to be doing and aligning with the self I want to be? Does anyone really care?watching the deer on

Because many of us are busy second guessing everything. We want to control and second guess everything and everyone, including our loved ones, and ourselves constantly. Somehow we got misinformed that being control freaks will quell our perpetual anxieties of the unknown. But I can tell you that after 40 some odd years of doing things this way, I’m lucky I’m not bonkers or driven away all the lovely people around me.

The turning point is when you realize that if you do your best, as you surely always do, then stuff always turns out pretty well. Lack of faith in this concept has you not necessarily doing the best job you can. In fact, you attract what you believe so if you believe your job isn’t good, others believe that and generally you spin your wheels in frustration. I never feel complete and satisfied because I’m always spinning the wheels trying to make it through the perpetual self doubting muck.Backyard Deer on

When I can say where I am is exactly where I need to be at this moment, then I’m actually allowed to move. Because I know, or have faith, that I have my back for the future. When I agree that I’m doing the best I can right now and allow that to be my truth, that’s when my brain shifts. A door swings open and life begins anew on the right tracks. Starting over again is based on giving myself permission to do just that and let go of all the what ifs and couldas and begin again. A bottomless supply of forgiveness until there’s no need for it anymore.Fiona waters the rabbit on

So here’s the concept : No more fiddly diddly second guessing trying to control every single loving detail of your life and everything around you. You do what you can, the very best that you can, and then sit back knowing the future always takes care of itself. And you are super capable of handling anything you didn’t see coming. I’m pretty sure the secret to a happy life has to do with believing you’ve got what it takes. And if you don’t believe that, and believe that you can even have that, then it’s time to find people to help you believe this wholeheartedly. No need to spend one more moment of another day perpetuating the belief of “if only you were this or they did that, then things would be…”. Now is actually just as it needs to be, you just need to put on the right glasses to see it.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Waiting For the Third Strike

The printer was acting funny. Disappearing ghost letters told me there was an issue. Another appliance dying perhaps. And that familiar question whispered in my head, “What else is going to go wrong?” I caught myself and chastised, you are always looking for the bad, remember ? How about tomorrow you collect good moments? And then tomorrow came and that’s today.

My morning started OK and then deteriorated. And after I yelled at Eamon for dropping the jumbo plastic peanut butter jar and cracking the lid off, I had that feeling again like the day was done and I was irreconcilably irritated. Remember only bad Mommies yell at their kids for spilled milk.Chessie and the printer on

After laying hands on the printer, I know it was a lost cause. Yes it was too noisy anyway but I just couldn’t help myself from thinking, the first of the three bad things has happened. What’s next?

I’m fretting about this art project I’ve taken on. Thinking that it would be good problem solving and skill building for me to create this painted floor cloth. And I am suddenly in a panic over the painting part. So off to the craft store I go to overcompensate for my fear by overspending on art supplies. floor cloth corner on

Fiona and I roll up to the check out counter at the art supply store and my credit card has expired. Of course. Strike two. And now my anxiety is starting to burble. I’m also laughing because I warned myself that I needed to be looking for blessings instead of disasters. And this wasn’t any bit as bad as that time with the driver’s license expiring. Nothing will ever compare to that “bad”.

Next, we head to the grocery store to get a few items and some cookies she’s now decided she must have. Headed home with her hand in the cookie box in the back seat, I’m thinking about what’s next when I realize, I never strapped her in. Jesus! So I took this opportunity to stop in Panera Bread for a Thai chicken salad (favorite) and a potty break and calm myself down.

Fiona falls asleep on the ride home but wakes up when I try to bring her inside. That may not count as strike three but I stopped off for the box wine on the way home in anticipation of more disaster. I’m feeling slightly better that I may at least have the supplies to do the art job I must do, although no time, and I’m anticipating a fight when we go for the real nap. Sigh. sky over corn fields

You heard that right? My brain went to that quicksand place where all anticipated bad happenings start rolling over each other and down into the bad hole ? That is called anxiety caused by a cognitive distortion. It is common. And I’m extremely aware of when I am choosing anxiety. So I said to myself, what’s dead is dead. (Daddy went and got a new printer in the next couple days.) Un-napped children act ridiculous but the very next day, the nap was two and a half hours long. And although the garage “paint studio” was stiflingly hot, the painting of the floor cloth went quicker and better than I expected because I stayed in process. It’s quite beautiful in fact.

Truly, there’s always enough time, there’s always enough creativity, and there’s always a way around the problems even if all of them hit at once. And there’s always something to laugh about instead. Anxiety doesn’t help and rarely wins life value points and I’m getting better and better about grabbing a hold of the anxiety and putting it in time out while I get on with my life. And usually your luck does even out in the end.

PS. New printer is installed and Fiona barfed all over the couch and I will be installing the decorations including floor cloth this week. Stay tuned.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Boo Hoo Yahoo : Email Snaffu

Sunday morning, poking at emails, and my Yahoo email account abruptly shuts down. I panic. I acknowledge that the powers that be are keeping me”safe” from online threats. In fact, the last time this happened, Japan was trying to hack into my email. But this time, there was no good reason.

What ensues is me being upset because now I want to control it back into working. And in trying to jump through hoops and regain access through my husband’s login to larger Verizon accounts, we find that I have just probably locked myself out for 12 to 24 hours from my own email account. On a Sunday. Offices open 8 am Pacific Standard time on Monday, the day this post is publishing. Eamon and Fiona on the swing on

We call this email snaffu an opportunity to grow moment. See AFGO article. I wasn’t really planning to do anything with my email anyway today. I was going to create stuff. My fury and aggravation was rerouted toward an inanimate object. And my children wanted my attention. Technology keeps sucker punching me. Lest we forget the Big Kahuna of Computer snaffus. It’s a good one.

I’m upset that I’m upset. How silly, right? I wasn’t planning to do emailing anyway. But now I really have no choice. And those children just needed to sit and cuddle with me so badly this morning. They don’t know what’s going on. They’ll take my hostility and frustration personally. And that’s just not worth it. So I sat and cuddled with both of them until they were done.

Swinging your sister on

I don’t like being made to feel helpless and human. I similarly realized my fallibility when I was balancing the checkbook the other day. Resignation that I am no bookkeeper and go ahead and deduct $150 and move on. It’s not personal. I received another rejection letter for an article submission. As much as I want to make it about me being less than, this has nothing to do with my worth as human being. But this computer stuff always shoves me to my knees.

I detest being reliant on something that is prone to go wonky especially due to my ignorance. In this case, just universal happenstance. Nothing personal. But it feels personal when it happens to you. And you know that the way your day will play out depends on how you frame the experience. I copied the Yahoo help contact phone numbers and walked my children to the car to go see their Grammy. Watering the garden on

I write this as a catharsis but also as a reminder. Something a wise bartender told my husband after his divorce. You will experience a shift he said. At first all women will be evil. Then one woman will be evil. Then women will be a necessary evil. So it goes with technology. All technology is evil. One technology is evil. Technology is a necessary evil. The motherboards and circuits and plastic bits aren’t trying to make you feel anything. So it’s up to you to not interpret as such. And then to find a way to help yourself out of the predicament you’re in. I’ve delivered my computer towers to people. I’ve had tech people come to my house. And I’ve talked to plenty of kind IT guys on the phone. And when I endeavored to persevere, I always came out with a solution. So I will with my yahoo mail snaffu as well. I will just have to wait until tomorrow after 9 am to do so.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter orPinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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