Google is one of my best friends. For years I have been describing, combating and helping several members of our household to deal with wrong, excessive, strange, habitual, destructive, thought patterns but never had the words to describe what that whole process was called until this weekend. Now I have the name for it...or maybe I had the name 25 years ago in college psych but forgot it in the meantime. ( A very likely scenario since my brain has to be on overdrive to deal with it not label it!)
But anyway..I have it back and want to be sure I don't forget to share it here for the rest of you who might not remember their college days either. And thank you husband for finally taking all that information I had been spewing and teaching for so many years -pooling it together and plugging it into the google search for me yesterday. Now I sound less like a freaky mommy and more like I have a clue as I redirect our team away from destructive thinking and into more healthy patterns!
The specific challenge we have been tackling is Cognitive Distortion, it's very real and often almost impossibly hard to identify and sort out. I believe that it is the most complex mental health behavior pattern we have ever had to unravel in our home simply because the person experiencing it often believes 100% that they are thinking clearly even when those around them can see that something unusual is happening.
"Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves."
This link goes to 15 of the most common cognitive distortions that Grohol shares including jumping to conclusions (I always fail) polarized thinking (must be perfect or I'm a failure) always needing to be right (because being right is very important.)
When cognitive distortions become the main filters a person uses to interpret the world around them a crisis is in the making. The longer, the stronger, the more convincing the negative distortions become the less connected to reality the individual is able to be and the harder it becomes to engage them relationally or constructively in the healthy world around them.
The good news is that once someone becomes aware that they are dealing with cognitive distortions then there is hope that they can begin to break the destructive cycle of believing the untrue negative things in their head. But it seems to be a very difficult and highly intentional process. And through experience we have learned that those in our family who face this challenge need a whole lot of external support to identify, name and refute those distortions for what they are and to replace them with healthy ideas about ourselves and others.