Some of our anxiety problems, bad mood and stress that we feel are related to the wrong way we see or conceptualize others, the situations we face and ourselves. These thoughts follow a series of guidelines:
They are illogical and irrational.
They are inaccurate and do not fit reality.
They are unproductive.
They are negative and devaluing.
They tend to dramatize.
And they result in an increase in anxiety and anguish.
I always/never, everything/nothing.
SUPPORT EXERCISE 1/3
Think and answer the following statements indicating whether you agree or not:
I must always be responsible: yes – no
I must trust myself completely: yes – no
I must be the perfect friend, son, father, boyfriend: yes – no
I must be the perfect student: yes – no
I must know and understand everything: yes – no
I must always be kind and pleasant : yes – no
I must be fully competent: yes – no
I must never feel anger, jealousy or envy: yes – no
I must never make mistakes: yes – no
I must never be afraid: yes – no
TOTAL: Yes_____ No______
ANALYZE YOUR RESULT
The healthy answer is to say “no” to all questions. Let’s see why.
In certain situations we demand ourselves to do certain things or behave with people in a way that forces us to make a very big effort. We live this self-demand as an obligation, a duty, something that we must necessarily perform.
If we analyze these duties, we see that they refer to aspects that “would be okay” to accomplish (in some cases not even that), but that there is no reason for them to become an obligation. It is us who give them that category and it’s the fact of thinking that way that leads us to overwhelm ourselves.
Let’s observe the difference between:
“I must be fully competent”,
if I am (not a true fact because it’s impossible to be completely competent), as I consider it my obligation … it has a neutral connotation,
if I am not fully competent (as is natural), it has a negative connotation and I live it as a failure and it makes me feel bad.
“It would be good to be more competent”,
if I am being step by step, it has a positive connotation that makes me feel good and makes me move forward.
If not, it has a neutral connotation.
Exercise.- Do the same work as the previous example with all the statements to which you answered YES.
Exercise.- Search your daily thoughts “I should” and apply the same “treatment.”
SUPPORT EXERCISE 2/3
Sometimes some situations that seem “terrible, horrible”, tremendously dramatic and negative. We are not referring to situations that are really terrible, but to those that, without being so, we experience them as such. Let’s look at some examples:
It’s horrible that they think badly of me.
It would be terrible to make a fool of myself like that.
I would die if my partner abandoned me.
If I fail the world sinks.
If I don’t finish this work it will be disastrous.
Let us analyze one of these statements objectively and see if they are really so serious or it is our catastrophic thinking that makes us feel overwhelmed.
“It’s horrible that they think badly of me”
We review it, transforming this statement into more objective and realistic ones:
“It makes me feel bad that they think badly about me, I don’t like it”
“It depends on who is the one who thinks badly about me and what he/she really thinks”
“ I don’t know exactly what they think”
Which one do you keep: the original or the revision?
Exercise.- Search for your three “horrible” favorites, write them down and review them as in the previous example. Do they cause you the same feeling of overwhelm or anxiety?
SUPPORT EXERCISE 3/3
There are moments when we use extreme categories when we think what is happening to us. We use absolute terms such as “everything”, “nothing”, “always”, “never”, “all”, “nobody”, etc.
everything will go wrong
nobody trusts me
everyone is better than me
I will never achieve it
She has always been better than me
Let’s analyze these statements objectively and we will see that they are very extreme reasoning and can easily become “something – sometimes – some”.
For example, let’s review “I’ll never achieve it”
If you really try, do you think you’ll never get it?
Never? For sure?
It may be more realistic to say: “It’s very difficult, but I will do everything possible to achieve it.”
Exercise.- Search for your “everything – nothing – always” and transform them. Do they cause you the same feeling of overwhelm or anxiety?
“It’s us who give them that category and it’s the fact of that way of thinking that leads us to overwhelm ourselves.”