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Jesus said, ďYou shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.Ē

That statement is never truer than it is for depression.  Only the truth can set you free from your cognitive distortions.  When you look at your distorted thoughts, you have one question to ask yourself.  Is what I am seeing and feeling, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?  Thatís the only way you can escape from your cognitive distortions.  You must know the unvarnished truth, and relentlessly cling to it.

Every twisted thought and distorted emotion must be held up to the full light of day and examined in detail.  If itís not the pure unvarnished truth, then you reject that thought because itís a cognitive distortion.

So letís look at the cognitive distortions that could have happened in my mind after my car accident in New Zealand.  Letís expose them for the imposters they are and banish them our mind.

All-or-nothing-thinking:  While itís true your legs are broken and your body is smashed, thatís just a temporary condition.  Your body will heal.  Broken legs certainly are an inconvenience, but they donít mean your body is worthless or your life is over.  Just because you have a punctured lung, doesnít mean you are going to be short of breath for the rest of your life.  God made your body so it could take a licking and keep on ticking.  Count your blessings.  Youíre still alive, and now you appreciate what a blessing it is to be able to walk and breathe normally. 

Overgeneralization:  Metal plates and screws in your legs donít mean your life is over.  And even if they cause some discomfort now, that pain will disappear once they take the metal out.  Even if you get arthritis in your broken knee, that doesnít mean your trip around the world is over or you will never have another adventure in the outback and beyond.  Being in the hospital for two months is an adventure in itself.  If you want to write about adventure, why donít you put your hospital adventures on your web site.  There are many people out there who need to know that accidents may make you stumble, but they donít need to make you stop.  Donít stop working on your dreams until the day you die, because there are still hundreds of places to sail your yacht and dozens of expeditions to make in your Land Rovers.

Mental Filter:  While itís true you can get hurt taking risks, there is no other way to live your dreams.  Furthermore, you have been taking risks for more than forty years without a serious accident.  So face the facts.  You are a good risk manager, and there is no reason to stop living your dreams.  Take off your safety glasses and put on your sun glasses, because itís never too late to sail on the ocean of your dreams. 

Disqualifying the positive:  Everything (positive and negative) counts in your life.  A car accident doesnít wipe out all the good things that have happened in the past and are happening in the present.  Your family loves and supports you.  Since the accident, you have received phone calls and letters of support from around the world.  You had a fantastic trip across the Pacific Ocean in your yacht, and there are tons of good things in your life.  When you total everything up, you discover that your blessings far outweigh your problems.

Jumping to conclusions:  You have serious injuries, but the odds favor your survival.  Fat embolism or a blot clot could take your life, but the chances of that happening are extremely remote.  And while itís true there are risks associated with blood transfusions, you would have died without the blood.  So count your blessings and be confident in the fact you are receiving excellent care.

Magnification:  This accident isnít the worst thing that could ever happen to you.  You could have died or been paralyzed. Although the accident put your life on hold, it didnít kill you.  Itís only a matter of time before you get up off your bed and start walking again in the direction of your dreams.

Emotional reasoning:  Although you feel bad now because your legs are broken, that doesnít mean your life is over or your legs are always going to be broken.  It would be abnormal for you feel good when you are in this physical state.  Itís OK to feel bad when your body is busted up.  Thatís entirely normal.  Your bad feelings will go away soon enough.  For the time being, you should ignore your feelings and face the facts.  God still loves you, your family still supports you, and there still is no limit to how good your life can become.

Should Statements:  Accidents can happen to anyone.  It doesnít make sense to say this accident shouldnít have happened.  Are you special in some way?  Is there some reason you should lead a charmed life?  Why shouldnít you drive a car in a foreign country?  You have done it for years without a problem.

Labeling and mislabeling:  Having a car accident doesnít mean you are an idiot.  Thatís why itís called an accident.  An idiot would be a person who planned to have an accident, and then went ahead and did it.  You arenít stupid or an idiot.  You had some bad luck and nothing more.

Personalization:  Itís true your kids spent less time studying their correspondence courses while you were in the hospital, but itís not your fault.  Your children are responsible for their own actions, and they have to learn to deal with the consequences of their actions.  You arenít responsible for things that are out of your control.  When you are flat on your back in the intensive care unit, you canít control the study habits of your children.

This little exercise shows that dealing with cognitive distortions is mainly common sense.  You donít need to have a PhD in psychology to be able to recognize a cognitive distortion when it pops into your mind.  If you are really stuck, then talking to a knowledgeable friend or mental health professional may be necessary to turn things around.

If you are severely depressed and have totally lost perspective, then, by all means, talk to a physician specialized in the treatment of mood disorders.  And if you have any suicidal thoughts, professional help is mandatory on an emergency basis. 

Excerpt from :

Zero Tolerance To Negative Thinking : Good-by Depression - Hello Positive Mind

David J Abbott M.D.

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When Dr. Dave isn't working as a Flying Doctor for the Indian Health Service, He is sailing around the world on his sailboat.
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