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Question: Did you have  distorted or warped thinking in your romantic relationship?
All or none thinking
Mental filter
Discounting the positive
Jumping to conclusions
Mind reading
Emotional reasoning
"Should" statements
Personalization and Blame
None of the above

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Author Topic: SELF ASSESSMENT | Have you struggled with distorted thinking?  (Read 2062 times)
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 313

« on: April 23, 2017, 04:08:34 PM »

It's well know that in times of stress and anxiety, we often mislead ourselves... .adopt distorted thinking patterns.

Have you exhibited any of the following during or after your romantic relationship?

1. All-or-nothing thinking - You see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure. When a young woman on a diet ate a spoonful of ice cream, she told herself, "I've blown my diet completely." This thought upset her so much that she gobbled down an entire quart of ice cream.

2. Overgeneralization - You see a single negative event, such as a romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as "always" or "never" when you think about it. A depressed salesman became terribly upset when he noticed bird dung on the window of his car. He told himself, "Just my luck! Birds are always crapping on my car!"

3. Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water. Example: You receive many positive comments about your presentation to a group of associates at work, but one of them says something mildly critical. You obsess about his reaction for days and ignore all the positive feedback.

4. Discounting the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting that they "don't count." If you do a good job, you may tell yourself that it wasn't good enough or that anyone could have done as well. Discounting the positives takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

5. Jumping to conclusions - You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion.

Mind Reading : Without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you.

Fortune-telling : You predict that things will turn out badly. Before a test you may tell yourself, "I'm really going to blow it. What if I flunk?" If you're depressed you may tell yourself, "I'll never get better."

6. Magnification - You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desirable qualities. This is also called the "binocular trick."

7. Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly." Or, "I feel guilty. I must be a rotten person." Or, "I feel angry. This proves that I'm being treated unfairly." Or, "I feel so inferior. This means I'm a second rate person." Or, "I feel hopeless. I must really be hopeless."

8. "Should" statements - You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. After playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself, "I shouldn't have made so many mistakes." This made her feel so disgusted that she quit practicing for several days. "Musts," "oughts" and "have tos" are similar offenders.

"Should statements" that are directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general, lead to anger and frustration: "He shouldn't be so stubborn and argumentative!"

Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if they were delinquents who had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything. "I shouldn't eat that doughnut." This usually doesn't work because all these shoulds and musts make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite. Dr. Albert Ellis has called this " must erbation." I call it the "shouldy" approach to life.

9. Labeling - Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake," you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser." You might also label yourself "a fool" or "a failure" or "a jerk." Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Human beings exist, but "fools," "losers" and "jerks" do not. These labels are just useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration and low self-esteem.

You may also label others. When someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, you may tell yourself: "He's an S.O.B." Then you feel that the problem is with that person's "character" or "essence" instead of with their thinking or behavior. You see them as totally bad. This makes you feel hostile and hopeless about improving things and leaves very little room for constructive communication.

10. Personalization and Blame - Personalization comes when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control. When a woman received a note that her child was having difficulty in school, she told herself, "This shows what a bad mother I am," instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman's husband beat her, she told herself, "If only I was better in bed, he wouldn't beat me." Personalization leads to guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy.

Some people do the opposite. They blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways they might be contributing to the problem: "The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable." Blame usually doesn't work very well because other people will resent being scapegoated and they will just toss the blame right back in your lap. It's like the game of hot potato--no one wants to get stuck with it.

See list of all self-assessment surveys

« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2017, 02:52:53 AM »

A thought-provoking thread. The negative thinking patterns I brought into my relationship with my ex were mostly connected to my experiences of growing up with a disability. In high school, my classmates started to go on dates, but I never had one. At one school dance, I overheard a popular girl in my class pleading with her boyfriend to dance with me, and him refusing indignantly. I didn't know which was worse, her pitying me like that or his scorn. From this experience and many others like them I learned that disabled women aren't considered attractive. This message was brought home to me not just by bullies but by friends. When I was nineteen years old, and in my first year at university, I finally had a boyfriend. When one of my old school friends met him, she said in tones of surprise, "He's quite good-looking." (Pause) "I never thought you'd be the type that guys would like." Now I know that the reason I started to meet interested guys at that age was because people are becoming more mature by the time they get to college, and unlike young teenagers they don't see a boyfriend or girlfriend as a status symbol - they want someone they're actually happy to spend time with, not necessarily the most conventionally attractive person they can find. They have also become more tolerant of difference and aren't embarrassed by disability. But while I know this now, at the time I was still vulnerable and sore from my experiences of being humiliated and put down. I assumed that any guy who was interested in me must be doing me some sort of favour, because I couldn't really be the sort of person anyone would want. This low self-worth definitely contributed to my relationship with my BPD ex. As his behaviours slid from erratic into unreasonable into abusive, I made excuses for him (minimisation) and criticised myself for what I ought to have done ('should' statements), because I was used to seeing myself as inherently defective. He encouraged me in these beliefs. Once a medical charity invited me to write a piece about developing confidence as a disabled teenager, aimed at a teenage audience, and I talked about the importance of understanding yourself and knowing that having an impairment doesn't make you broken or lazy, just differently wired. When my ex read it, he got angry. "So the rest of us are broken and lazy, just because we don't have a disability like you that we can use as an excuse for not doing stuff?" I don't even know how he managed to make it all about him, but before you know it I was begging his forgiveness for daring to phrase myself that way. Any expression of self-confidence from me, and he took it as a personal insult.
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 217

« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2017, 04:24:37 AM »

Balletomane, yes thats true, as we get older, less we care about the looks. What counts is that what we have inside.
Im not anything perfect and my ex wasnt anything perfect either. At least for many people. But for me, she was the the cutest one and not only that, when you love someone you will feel it sexually too. I got very turned on. Always. For me, she was the perfect package and i couldnt care a less what others may have thought. I remember when i was left then one of my friends said that she wasnt even hot and so on. I was quiet, but inside i thought that well, thats something where i disagree with you.
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Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 313

« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2017, 08:21:42 AM »

I have been thinking alot lately about the warped and distorted thinking patterns I had in my relationship with my BPD-ex.

This poll was a useful exercise to foster my self-awareness, and helps me reflect on things about myself that did not start and end with my BPD-ex and that disordered relationship.

As I look closely at some of my behaviours I see that many of my reactions actually preceded my ex, they just were magnified by the intensity and chaos of the relationship.

I am particularly guilty of overgeneralizing, jumping to conclusions (mind reading and fortune teller errors both), magnification or minimization, and emotional reasoning in my romantic relationships.

Minimization and emotional reasoning deserve special comment for my BPD relationship.

I kept minimizing serious mental health issues, raging against strangers,  she had when we were together. Why? This had nothing to do with her, it had to do with me. Something I have had to reflect on alot and look at my past to start to decipher. It relates to my co-dependent issues and childhood I think and were behaviours I learned at a young age.

On emotional reasoning: many many many times when she crossed a boundary I would excuse her actions by saying to myself "but I love her and that means I should accept her", although she did things that clearly were not okay in any healthy relationship (ie. I should have left her then and there and kept my self-respect).

There are some really interesting questions in the thread that I found very helpful answering!

Cheers, Marti
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 8735

« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2017, 08:33:22 AM »

Just a side note, this is work from David Burns of Stanford, a leading authority on CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and depression. Many of our members test out on the depression index. Do you know where you rank?

      Take Depression Test

ARTICLE: Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking
By David Burns MD, From The Feeling Good Handbook (Plume Publishers, 1999)
Article bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56199.0
Companion article bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56200.0

AUTHOR: Dr. Burns graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, received his M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed his psychiatry residency at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He has served as Acting Chief of Psychiatry at the Presbyterian / University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (1988) and Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Medical School (1998) and  is certified by the National Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2017, 09:34:58 AM »

i struggled a lot with "should" statements.

"i should be angry". "i should be over her". "i shouldnt miss her".

it was a big load off when i stopped judging my process and gave myself permission to grieve.

     and I think it's gonna be all right; yeah; the worst is over now; the mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball…
Pretty Woman
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The Greatest Love is the Love You Give Yourself

« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2017, 09:37:47 AM »

I too, feel the way Once Removed once felt. I get angry at myself for not getting over this as quickly as I feel I should never have wanted someone who treated me poorly and made me feel bad about myself.

I am a work in progress... .still trudging along.

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Relationship status: Divorced Oct 2015
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2017, 09:59:45 AM »

Hi Marti644,

It brings it into perspective for me when the cognitive distortions are listed like that and we're asked to select which ones that we had in the r/s, I selected 80% of the choices up there I didn't know what distorted thinking / cognitive distortions were, Skip has stated more than once that like attracts like, i'm not implying that I'm BPD/NPD, a gift from the r/s break-up is identifying key areas that we can work on and working on cognitive distortions has brought significant positive changes with me that reflects on my r/s with my kids, work, etc... .I still have them but I understand what they are and can balance my thinking, whereas I wasn't aware of the behaviors that I was putting out there, it's about self management really and not having others manage it for you.

"Let go or be dragged" -Zen proverb
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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2017, 11:16:24 AM »

Due to earlier experience in childhood I did have a degree of negative thinking and low self esteem. I also thought that some of my positive actions should have helped fix the relationship and smooth things over. It didn't work though.
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 208

« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2017, 12:21:00 PM »

I've noticed that I have trouble understanding what is a normal relationship anymore. One poster here refereed to it as cringing for the slap. In other words I do things instinctively that I did when I was with my pwBPDex, like over texting, because I still have this fear of the consequences.
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