Saturday, September 27, 2014

Uncovering Cognitive Distortions

Throughout the years of dealing with chronic pain in my muscles and joints, I read in numerous medical journals, the Arthritis Magazine, and books about chronic pain, that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was the key to improving your life and your ability to cope with pain. Not so oddly (after all, our government hasn't figured out what is best for us), I didn't have access to Psychological care. You see, if you have Medicare, free clinics won't help you. Between the steep co-pays and gas money I didn't have, I was left on my own. About the time I began this blog, I also began to research CBT. Life Coaching had become the new Psychologists, promoting positive psychology.

One day, someone in my apartment complex scheduled a vacation and asked me to take care of their cat. It turned out that both Mr. & Mrs. had majored in Psychology and still had all their school books. One of them was Dr. David Burns' "Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy". In this book, I found the thinking errors I had acquired over the years ... and the way to transform them. Ones like "all or nothing thinking", "Overgeneralization", "Magnification", and "Jumping to Conclusions", were often the ways I dealt with daily life. This is a big fat book loaded with lots of exercises to do to work on transforming the cognitive distortions ingrained in your mind.

If I had woken up in the morning with pain all over my body, I used to tell myself I'll never be able to do anything with my life or go to any of the places I wanted to go. In the book, an exercise would include "Negative Thoughts" and the Distortions". Further on, is "Automatic Thoughts", "Distortions", and "Rational Responses". It wasn't long before I began catching myself when negative thoughts rushed through my mind and began to rephrase them. And as you can see by this blog, I am now a much happier person, living a much more meaningful life.