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    POSITIVE BUTTERFLIES FOR A POSITIVE LIFE



ALTHOUGH ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS ARE OPTIONAL


Ten common cognitive distortions found in the mirrors of your mind include:

1.  All-or-nothing thinking

2.  Overgeneralization

3.  Mental filter

4.  Disqualifying the positive

5.  Jumping to conclusions

6.  Magnification and minimization

7.  Emotional reasoning

8.  Should statements

9.  Labeling and Mislabeling

10. Personalization

Chapter two discusses each of these mental mirrors in detail, and I wonít repeat that information here.  You can review chapter two if you need to refresh your mind on the exact nature of each cognitive distortion.

This chapter is a tutorial that gives you the opportunity to look in the mirrors of my mind, and you can put a name on the cognitive distortions that you find there.  So letís get started.  Youíre the doctor, and Iím the patient.  Diagnose the cognitive distortions reflected in the mirrors of my mind.

In New Zealand, I had a car accident in which my vehicle rolled over trapping me inside.  I was unable to move because I had two broken legs, five broken ribs, a punctured lung, a fractured shoulder blade, and a dislocated knee cap.  I also had internal bleeding that threatened my life.  While I was waiting for the firemen to cut me out of the vehicle using the Jaws of Life, I had plenty of time to look at the reflections in the mirrors of my mind.  And while I was in the hospital for two months recovering from my injuries, I had plenty of opportunities to allow cognitive distortions to take command and control of my mind.  So listen to what could have happened if I had allowed the cognitive distortions to run roughshod through my life.  Listen to what these cognitive distortions could have said and would have said if they had free reign.

All-or-nothing thinking shouts, ďYour legs are broken and your body is bashed.  If you arenít in perfect health with peak fitness, then your body is ruined.  Itís totally worthless.  Why donít you just crawl into the dumpster behind the hospital so they can pick you up and throw you on the trash heap of life.Ē

Overgeneralization screeches, ďYou probably arenít going to die, but your life is over.  The metal screws and plates in your legs are going to cause chronic pain, and just wait until the arthritis starts in your broken knee.  You arenít the person you used to be.  You wonít be able to get on your boat to complete your sailing trip around the world.  You wonít be able to write a book about your sailing adventures.  You wonít be able chronicle your adventures on your web site (maxingout.com) because you arenít going to have any adventures.  Face the facts.  Every area of your life is ruined by this disaster.

Mental filter says, ďYou just got run over by the Mack truck of life.  Do you know why that happened?  Itís because you were taking too much risk.  If you hadnít been sailing around the world on your yacht and touring in New Zealand, this accident would never have happened.  Itís a dangerous world out there, and itís time for you to start worshiping at the altar of security.  Thereís no doubt about it, because of this accident you finally can see that adventure isnít worth the risk.  You need to wear safety glasses, a helmet, and shin guards, and then buy a house where you can sit in a rocking chair on your front porch so you can be safe.Ē

Disqualifying the positive says, ď While itís true you just spent six wonderful months cruising across the Pacific Ocean, that doesnít count.  Whatís really important is you are physically disabled, and you will be unable to sail for the next year.  While itís true you survived the accident, and you can walk with assistance, what really counts is the fact you canít walk well enough to get on your boat and sail to Australia. 

Jumping to conclusions says, ďYou are in big trouble now.  You are going to get fat embolism from the long bone fractures in your legs.   When the fat hits your lungs, you are going to die.  And if fat embolism doesnít get you, you are going to get blood clots in your legs while you lie in bed for six weeks.  When you get out of bed, those clots are going to dislodge, travel to your lungs, and you will instantly die.  Do you see that blood transfusion running into your veins?  They probably havenít properly screened the blood for AIDS and hepatitis virus.  Face the facts.  In a few months you are going to come down with hepatitis or AIDS.Ē

Magnification says, ďThis accident is the worst thing that could ever happen to you.  In fact, itís hard to imagine how you could be in worse shape.  You have had a few problems in the past, but your problems now are totally off the Richter scale.  Why donít you just surrender to your totally insurmountable and overwhelming problems?Ē

Emotional reasoning shouts, ďI feel so bad, I know my life is really over now.  I feel so dizzy when I try to stand up, I just know I will never walk normally again.  I am going to be crippled for the rest of my life.Ē

Should statements say, ďThis accident should never have happened.  I should have been more careful.  I shouldnít have brought that van and driven in a foreign country on the opposite side of the road.  All of this misery should never have happened.Ē

Labeling and mislabeling say, ďI canít believe how stupid I was to have this accident.  There must be something wrong with me.  I was a real idiot to think that I could drive on the opposite side of the road in a foreign country without having an accident.Ē 

Personalization says, ďYou have been in the hospital recovering from your injuries for two months now, and your children havenít been studying their correspondence courses.  Itís your responsibility to make sure they do their lessons every day.  When they end up with a poor education, it will be your fault.  You should have been teaching them their daily lessons from your hospital bed.Ē 

When the Mack truck of life ran over me in New Zealand, I faced a massive challenge.  Was I going to let the voice of depression and despair rule my life, or was I going to reject the cognitive distortions that threatened my peace of mind?

I learned a valuable lesson.  Accidents happen, but cognitive distortions are optional.

You are going to face thousands of challenges in your life, and you must decide whether you will let twisted thoughts and distorted emotions take over your mind.  Just because you have a lot of problems, doesnít mean you have to slide down the slippery slope of depression.  Depression is optional, and you can choose to not be depressed.

Itís impossible to become depressed if you reject the cognitive distortions when they pop into your mind.  Thatís what chapter ten is about.  You must reject your cognitive distortions so that depression never gains a foothold.

Remember, if you want to have a mind free from depression, nobody can stop you.

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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