Research over many years has validated the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. In other words, our thoughts determine our feelings which in turn affect our actions. For example, I am very worried about an impromptu speech that I must make in a few minutes. My thoughts tend toward black and white thinking which is ” I must do this perfectly or I am a total failure.” These thoughts create a tremendous amount of anxiety and when I forget a line or word in the actual speech, then I see myself as a total failure and any future speeches will carry tremendous anxiety and possibly avoidance of public speaking in my life.
What if I could change the way I think which would in turn change the way I feel and then modify my actions accordingly? Hypnosis can be a very useful tool in making this happen. Below I list the ten forms of “twisted thinking. ” (Burns, 1989) You can see if any of these apply to you and then make a decision about changing the way you think.
- All or nothing thinking: You see things in black or white categories. For example, you eat a spoon full of ice cream while on a diet and you tell yourself that you have blown your diet completely so why not eat the whole quart of ice cream!
- Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event such as a romantic rejection as a never ending pattern of defeat by using words such as always and never when you think about it.
- Mental Filter: You pick out a single detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your version of reality becomes dark and negative. For instance you make a presentation and receive many positive remarks but one negative one and that is the one you dwell on for days.
- Discounting the Positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting that they don’t count which leaves you feeling inadequate and unrewarded.
- Jumping to Conclusions: You can do this through two methods of mind-reading where you conclude that someone is thinking negatively about you without checking it out or through fortune telling where you predict things will turn out badly such as “I am going to flunk” or “I’ll never get better.”
- Magnification: You exaggerate the importance of your problems and you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities.
- Emotional Reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. “I feel guilty so I must be a rotten person” or ” I feel hopeless so I must be hopeless.”
- Should Statements: You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or else life is terrible. Using words like must, should, and have to’s lead to feelings of guilt and frustration. Many folks try to motivate themselves with words like shoulds and shouldn’ts which don’t really work because they actually make you want to do the opposite thing.
- Labeling: This is an extreme form of all or nothing thinking. Instead of saying “I made a mistake” you attach a negative label to yourself such as “I’m a loser.” Labeling is quite irrational as you are not the same as what you do. Labels are useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustrations and low self-esteem. Labeling others can make you feel hostile and hopeless.
- Personalization and Blame: This can happen when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that is not entirely under your control such as blaming yourself for being a bad parent when your child acts up in school or you blame others for your problems or circumstances. In other words you overlook ways that you might contribute to the problem.
Hypnosis is an excellent tool in addressing and changing negative thinking which will in turn create a better life for you and for others about whom you care. Please contact me if you think I can help you or if you have any questions.
Try the following exercises where you match the thought to the “twisted way of thinking” :
- “I’ll feel really good if I have a beer right now and it will taste so good.”
- “I really shouldn’t have that beer.”
- “I’ll have only one beer. That won’t hurt me.”
- “Life is so boring. I deserve some fun.”
- “Wow! That beer tasted good! I think I’ll have another one and then I’ll feel even better!”
How’d you do?
- This is an example of positive fortune telling. Usually this person will feel worse because they will have more than one beer.
- This is a “should statement.” It sounds moralistic and judgmental.
- This is another example of fortune telling because you are predicting something unrealistic.
- This is emotional reasoning when in reality the alcoholism may make one more depressed and bored with life.
- This is more emotional reasoning and fortune telling. Do you know why?