17 October 2000
Summertime has come and gone and I've been extremely quiet near it's end. It's been a hectic summer filled with personal struggle and growth. Recent months have left me pondering my views on life and my approach to life. I've always struggled to maintain a positive attitude, however, sometimes the negativity and the self-doubt takes control and it's a fight to the finish to bring myself back up again. I'm finally at that point where I have been able to remove the majority of negativity from my heart and soul and I'm learning how to deal with this negativity when I'm once again faced with it (as I inevitably will be). I'm learning to recognize my self-defeating behaviors and attitudes so that I can counteract them. I recently read a book that describes 10 basic self defeating behaviors/attitudes in the thought that once one learns to recognize these negative thoughts one can work on proving them wrong and keeping positivity on the forefront.
When I first started reading the descriptions for each of the 10 negative thoughts I started checking them off one-by-one and saying, "yes, I do that and that and that and..." As it turns out I have mistakenly entertained each of the 10 negative thoughts in my mind and my life at times when I'm feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed. As an effort to re-emphasize in my mind what each of these attitudes is, I am going to describe each of them here. Who knows maybe someone out there will find it beneficial as well.
1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened.
4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by everyday expereiences.
5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
6. EMOTIONAL RESONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."
7. MAGNIFICATION OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievements), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow's imperfections).
8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn'ts as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything.
9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself.
10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
And so by recognizing these behaviors it allows me to adjust my mood and thoughts accordingly in order to defeat such negativity. Just knowing these behaviors, however, does not mean that I will never truly experience any one of them again. It simply means that I won't be consumed by any one of them if I learn to counteract the negativity with positivity and reason. For example, I tend to personalize a great deal of things (attitude #10). The last relationship I had ended badly and instead of recognizing that the person I was involved with was the one who ended up losing I ended up blaming myself. I'd tell myself that I must have done something to make him lie to me and so it was my fault for not being a good girlfriend (PERSONALIZATION) or it was my fault because I am stupid and ugly (LABELING) or it was my fault because I "should" have done more to please him (SHOULD STATEMENTS). So, in essence instead of placing the responsibility for the deception where it belonged (with the jerk that lied to me), I was placing all the blame on myself when in reality I didn't force him to deceive me. He did that of his own free will and he is at fault for that, not me. I had no control over his behavior and lack of respect. As simple as that may sound, when one is completely immersed in such negativity it just doesn't seem so clear. I had to have the book I was reading point this out to me before I realized...I was not to blame and I am not a horrible person because I was deceived by someone I cared about. It's amazing how simply knowing and recognizing such negativity as unreasonable and often quite ridiculous can help one overcome the negativity and begin allowing positive thoughts in once again.
Anyway, that was a long ramble that simply had to be documented for my own emotional well-being. Hopefully, you've also found it helpful. I will endeavor to write another entry or two before this month is over. Goodbye for now.