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Author Topic: POLL: Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking - Burns MD  (Read 21006 times)
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« on: April 05, 2007, 05:22:03 PM »

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

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How we often mislead ourselves... .

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.

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 #1 on: April 29, 2009, 04:56:24 PM »

Having someone with BPD in your life can be quite challenging. That’s probably a bit of an understatement. Whether it’s your parents, siblings, in-laws or anyone else, interactions with a person with BPD or BPD traits can be difficult to handle. It's important to keep telling yourself that no matter what your BPD relatives might say or do to you, their behavior is most likely not a reflection of who you really. It's more likely that their words and actions are only a reflection of their own inner negativity or turmoil which is being projected onto you. Not taking their behavior personally is very important to protect your own emotional and mental well-being. Easier said than done of course, I fully realize that  In some cases you may experience yourself being affected to the point that you start to question yourself or start to get anxious more and more.

Questions These kinds of thinking patterns can really negatively affect your mood and also cause you to feel anxious. To explore this subject further, I’d be very interested to hear your answers to the following questions:
 
1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?
 
2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?
 
3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?
 
4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?
 
Thanks in advance for anything you can share here!
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2009, 05:23:25 PM »

I must work harder to correct these imperfections, now that I'm aware of them.  What a "catch 22" I have accepted/demanded of myself.  Sad, sad, sad.   Never am I as some neurotic authority figure or institution would have me to be ... .legacies of BPD.  Being emotionally mature is often threatening to those individuals & institutions that do not accept a different way of being!
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2011, 07:50:00 AM »

Scary,I have some of these imperfections.
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 10:22:51 AM »

That's about $5,000 worth of therapy! I'm a master at the "binocular trick."

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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 11:34:01 AM »

That's a useful list. I think I take more than my share of blame (not all) and sometimes magnify and use a mental filter. I do not do black and white thinking--if anything I tend to see too many shades of gray. Smiling (click to insert in post) This list is not static. Some of these behaviors would be and are exacerbated during stressful times.

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« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2012, 02:48:53 PM »

Great article.  I really need to work on my Emotional Reasoning!
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2012, 05:57:49 PM »

As the adult child of a PD mother, I struggle with quite a few things on this list, so I've been using this along with the "Ten Ways to Untwist Your Thinking" for months now. As with anything, it's a process, but one that is becoming slightly easier with practice.  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 01:07:45 AM »

I think this is a wonderful list. I do many of these things. My future ex did too.

Is it specifically for those that came from a bad personal relationship?
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2012, 10:55:01 AM »

I think this is a wonderful list. I do many of these things. My future ex did too.

Is it specifically for those that came from a bad personal relationship?

These are common patterns in people suffering from depression.  A recent poll suggests that 77% of our members struggle with depression.



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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2012, 04:14:11 PM »

I have to do a lot of "self correcting" and my friends point out the inaccuracies in statements that I often make. I am trying to leave this sort of thinking behind.
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 07:41:39 AM »

Its certainly an accurate list of some of the items that frustrate me in interacting with my wife.

So much so, that certain things I will just avoid doing with her.

A big one that is particularly frustrating to me is 'catastrophizing'.  That is, interpreting one small item in a way that is a gross over reaction.  Im guessing it falls into one of the categories as a subset.

For example, when my son was about 1 year old I gave him a very small piece of pepperoni to eat (enough for him to taste it).  My wife melted down since it had chemicals and preservatives in it, and since he was young: 'he could die'.  (it wasnt about wanting to be organic, it was that she equaled it to feeding him poison)

It could be part of all or nothing, or part of over generalization... .
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2013, 09:55:09 PM »

I just thought of an addition to evil #8:      "you need to"... .  

You need to (do this) or you need to (do that)... .     This phrase is something that drives my dBPDs around the bend.  While it is meant to be a suggestion, just like "could and should", it ends up sounding like a command.

Not good.

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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 06:57:25 PM »

is there a line somewhere between being self critical and self reflecting and self aware?

what about a line between being accountable and accepting and guilty?

ooh these 10 twisted thinking forms and the 15 cognitive distortions... .  so familiar, so sad.

I am so glad I am leaving these ways behind, but yes, it's hard to break old habits. At least I have stopped 'should'ing myself. I am now working on the black and white thinking at times of emotional distress.

Vivek  

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« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2013, 08:33:43 PM »

Excerpt
Catastrophizing.

We expect disaster to strike, no matter what.


ooh i'm very bad with this one
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2013, 08:37:54 PM »

It's good know where you might be hurting yourself.  The companion article link at the top has ways to untwist thinking.  Pretty simple exercises. Smiling (click to insert in post)

ARTICLE: Ten Forms of Twisted Thinking By Dr. David Burns Companion article with bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=56200.0 From The Feeling Good Handbook (Plume Publishers, 1999)
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2013, 10:58:03 PM »

Must be something weird about me as I don't do any of those ten. Guess therapy worked for me.
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« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2014, 06:57:36 AM »

Always being right!   Gonna have to work on that one.
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« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2015, 09:22:40 PM »

This is awesome. And timely.
 
last night I was doing this exercise about draining off emotions as advised by this incredibly insightful person I know   and I struggled with it! Over and over again!
 
I talk about flashbulb moments - this was like the sky was on FIRE! I just. Couldn't. Do. It.
 
Excerpt
Overgeneralisation: One example of a mistake or error is interpreted as a pattern of mistakes, and errors.
Mental filter: One (negative) part of the picture is examined to the exclusion of the larger (positive) part.
Disqualifying the positive: Dismissing or ignoring any positive comment/achievement/compliment.
Jumping to conclusions: You think negatively about something without supporting evidence. There are two errors:   
Personalisation: This involves attributing blame to self for an event where the responsibility is not fully yours, only partly yours or not yours at

All of this.
 
ALL of it over and over. In relation to 2 or 3 related events.
 
I must say I did not deal with the critical negative voice very well at all but and it is a huge but I heard it more clearly and I was able to separate from it once or twice.
 
Talking myself down off the ledge wasn't working so i tried the drain.
 
In the end I confess I went into fallback position which is withdrawal. I am not happy that I didn't succeed in resolving my feelings but I did congratulate myself for trying, I encouraged myself to try again when stronger and I did allow myself the luxury of a few tears which i don't usually do.
 
So thanks for this.
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« Reply #19 on: January 23, 2015, 10:21:16 PM »

The "inner critic" is really the voice of someone else (or elses) that we've internalized as our own.

From my uBDx: "a woman of character deserves a man of character. In that, you failed." Message:  you lack character. She's the only person in my life, besides my mom (whom I have an ok r/s with now) who's even come close to telling me that. Leaving aside the schoolyard bullies... .forgot about them for a moment.

From my BPD mom several times when I was a child, "sometimes, I wish I'd never adopted you!" Message: you're worthless and you cause me pain. I wish you didn't exist.

Painful stuff, and we've seen stories here that are far worse.

Being invalidated as a child, when our identities are still forming, is extremely damaging. That punitive parent becomes the inner critic. How do we take back that which was stolen from us, the chance to form our own identities apart from the abuse from those who themselves lack identities?
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« Reply #20 on: January 24, 2015, 08:22:36 PM »

Very good questions.
 
It's good for me to pause and think about them and attempt some answers. Helps me to keep growing!
 
I would say for myself that the entire list applies at times, but the following are probably my greatest struggles at the moment. To answer your first question: Yes, my inner critic stays very much employed. One of these days I should fire her.
 
Excerpt
  • Magnification or minimization: This is making small things much larger than they deserve, and making other things much smaller than they are in reality.
  • Emotional reasoning: Thinking that emotional states legitimately reflect reality.
  • Should statements: Thinking in terms of should, must, ought imposes a view about the way the world is which may not tie in with reality, and which induces emotional unhappiness, resentment and guilt.
  • Personalisation: This involves attributing blame to self for an event where the responsibility is not fully yours, only partly yours or not yours at all.

#2: where does this voice come from?  
 
I've always thought it came from myself, from criticizing me or the need to criticize myself. After reading some thoughts posted here recently, do you think it really is possible that the voice we hear is really that of our BPDparent but we've adopted it in our own voice? If I'm just mentally repeating what my mom always said, then it tells me what I've blocked and don't remember... .her words. While I remember some, I don't have a lot of specifics.
 
I'm not too successful at #3 and #4 yet, but I can see where I have sometimes been able to identify some of what I've done as regards #3.
 
I am also able to identify that a lot of what has been established as a pattern in me from long ago has certainly carried over into my marriage. I'm constantly using these warped patterns of thinking in my marriage relationship. While DH is not BPD, he is controlling and triggers these behaviors in me almost every day.
 
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2015, 07:30:53 AM »

Wonderful post! This is something that plagued me for many years!

1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?][/quote]
The inner negative voice was mostly my mom, but mingled in there were the voices of my siblings ridiculing me as well.

I do have some fleeting moments of the negative inner voice, but it is quickly dispelled. I learned through CBT how to get rid of the negative messages by replacing them with positive or normalizing statements. I spent many years telling myself that I was a good person and that I had many good qualities. Can't say that I believed myself at first, or even the hundredth time I made these statements to myself, but over time, it did replace the negative thoughts. My favorite statement to myself is "Everyone does thing like this. I am the same as everyone else. I am not perfect and they are not either." This was the most freeing of all statements as I always felt isolated and separate from the group. I thought that everyone else was so much better than me and didn't have the kinds of experiences or thoughts that I did. I think time and experience proved me wrong on this.

Really enjoyed examining this issue again. It is worthwhile to evaluate where we are at in our healing process. Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2015, 09:35:52 AM »

Thanks for all your wonderful responses! I myself have also struggled with automatic negative thoughts. After learning about Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), things started to change for me. I started applying the techniques and this has really helped me talk back and to a degree even silence the negative internalized voice. In my case I internalized the overly critical voice of my uBPD mom and sis and not to forget that of my brother, a person with huge narcissistic traits  This weakened me and I took this internalized voice, in fact multiple internalized voices, with me wherever I went and thatalso  made me an easy target at school so I can relate to you Turkish when you mention the schoolyard bullies.

Excerpt
Cognitive therapy programs train people to replace maladaptive cognitive styles with helpful thinking patterns and increase behavioral coping skills. CBT is a very useful coping tool for family and partners (current and former) of individuals with borderline personalty disorder.

When I started applying cognitive behavior techniques I was clearly able to identify all the various forms of distorted thinking in my own thinking patterns. Except for one, emotional reasoning: thinking that emotional states legitimately reflect reality. The 'funny' thing is that of all the forms of distorted thinking, emotional reasoning was one of the ones I did most of all. However, at first I just couldn't see it or believe that you could actually be so strongly influenced by your emotions that this would totally determine or alter your perception of reality. It just didn't seem possible to me, but boy was I wrong

I found out just how powerful emotional reasoning was after a day that I had been really working hard on learning more a bout CBT. At the end of the day I was disappointed that I didn't feel better and told myself that CBT wasn't helpful at all to me, i would never feel better and all sorts of other stuff too. However the next day, I felt a whole lot better and started to connect the dots that I hadn't been able to do the day before, probably because I was very tired. I was absolutely amazed that they way I felt about everything was so different from how I felt the night before and that's when I realized just how powerful emotional reasoning is.

Something I really like about cognitive behavior techniques is their relative simplicity, yet their positive effects can be very powerful in lifting your mood and reducing anxiety. The basic idea is just that you write down any (automatic) negative thoughts you might have and try to counteract or combat them by writing a positive or rational response next to them. This is something you can do by yourself even without a therapist. Events lead to thoughts which lead to feelings which lead to behaviors  By changing our thinking we can change our feelings and as a result our behavior. And also changing your behavior directly, even if you we still have negative thoughts, will have a direct influence on how you think and feel.

The mind is a magical place! Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2015, 09:07:49 PM »

Excerpt
1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

1 - Yes.

2 - Honestly, I don't think my inner critic is anyone elses voice - other than "little beefree", so to speak. I think "little beefree" was so scared of the unpredictable storms of wrath, that she would try to do everything as perfectly as possible, so as not to cause the storms inside uBPD mom to explode - not realizing that the storms really didn't have anything at all to do with her performance, but with the storms going on inside of her mom.

3 - probably mental filter/magnification. For example, this morning I sang lead on three challenging songs, and objectively have to say I did very well. My focus wasn't on wow, that was a great morning, I got to sing three songs and did really well, but I didn't exactly quote the text I spoke, people probably think much less of me.

4. Right now I'm just starting to work on identifying when it is happening.  Reading Healing Your Emotional Self by Engel.
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« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2015, 04:27:26 PM »

Excerpt
1.   When you look at your own situation would you say that you sometimes find yourself struggling with a overly negative or self-critical inner voice?

Yes.  It has gotten better but it is still a struggle and a problem for me especially when i am tired.

Excerpt
2.   If you do, where do you think this inner voice/critic comes from? Is it really yourself talking or could it perhaps be that you've internalized the negative or critical voice of your parents, siblings, in-laws etc.?

I think it is a combination of both me and my mother.  When I started thinking about this, I realized it is like they are fused.  The negative, self-defeating and demoralizing beliefs I have about myself are definitely from my mother, but I internalized those projections to the point where they were/are beliefs that I have.  It goes beyond just the projections.  Is this where projective Identification comes into play?  I think so, but I am no expert.

Excerpt
3.   Can you identify any of the listed forms of distorted or warped thinking in your own thinking patterns?

I think I have done almost all of them at one point in time.  Just yesterday I found out that I had been feeling anxious and like I had diverted something from it's intended course only to find out that I was the only one who saw it that way.  So I was doing the old Jumping to conclusions/mind reading/fortune telling distortion along with emotional reasoning!  Those two seem to be my more common ones.

Excerpt
4.   How do you deal with your negative inner voice? Have you found ways to effectively talk back to your inner critic?

Well, I haven't been successful yet but there are a few things that seem to work/help.  I do know not to rely on the internal dialogue/voice when i am tired, so I will step back and wait before making any decisions.  I also try to stay aware of the fact that sometimes my perceptions are a bit off, especially when i am doing some deep emotional work, and so I try to slow down my response to the voice(s) and think things through rather than just go with what my feelings are dictating.  Sometimes though, when the voices are really crazy and just ridiculous, I tell it to shut up.  Smiling (click to insert in post) Surprisingly, it does work for a bit but maybe it is because I usually end up laughing at myself.  Some things are really just that ridiculous!   

Another thing I do is use the list of 10 ways to untwist my thoughts, also by David Burns, MD.  One of his ways to untwist is to use the survey method where you ask (trusted) people if your thoughts or attitudes are realistic.  I try not to use this too often as one, I want to figure it out on my own and two, I don't want to wear out my welcome with my friends!  But once I get some feedback I can then tell myself that voice does not know what it is talking about. 

As a side note, I was bullied in school too.  I was waaaayyy too sensitive and cried easily (annoyingly so) on top of having poor self-esteem and taking everything people/kids did and said personally so of course I was a prime target for bullying.  That did not help at all in terms of developing a good self image.       so I guess those experiences also added to the voices.
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« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2015, 12:58:27 AM »

I must say I did not deal with the critical negative voice very well at all but and it is a huge but I heard it more clearly and I was able to separate from it once or twice.

What do you think was the difference those one or two times that you were able to separate from that negative voice? Is there a lesson there that might also work in other situations?

Being invalidated as a child, when our identities are still forming, is extremely damaging. That punitive parent becomes the inner critic. How do we take back that which was stolen from us, the chance to form our own identities apart from the abuse from those who themselves lack identities?

I think talking back to that negative inner voice is very important to try and get our identity back. The negative voice basically only tells us lies, so if we believe what it's telling us, we're living in a world of fantasy. Applying cognitive behavior techniques has worked for me. Nowadays I combine it with mindfulness and tell myself to be mindful of my own thoughts so I'll be able to notice any distorted thinking patterns that might be going on.

Yes, my inner critic stays very much employed. One of these days I should fire her.

I really think you should Wools! No one needs someone working for them who has such a bad attitude

After reading some thoughts posted here recently, do you think it really is possible that the voice we hear is really that of our BPDparent but we've adopted it in our own voice? If I'm just mentally repeating what my mom always said, then it tells me what I've blocked and don't remember... .her words. While I remember some, I don't have a lot of specifics.

I think it is possible to have internalized the negative voice of someone, but there are also other scenarios of course. Some people might have had wonderful parents who never were critical at all, yet still end up with a negative critical inner voice.

In my case it isn't necessarily that I repeat the exact same things that were told to me as a child and young adult, but more that the theme is the same. Like you better not try anything new because I wasn't allowed to do anything as a kid. Or I must be a bad person otherwise they wouldn't have treated me like that when I was younger. Not only the words of our parents can get internalized but also the messages they silently express through their actions. Do you feel like this might be something that also happened to you?

Emotional reasoning was the hardest one for me to overcome. This seemed to feed the other negative thinking patterns, especially the all or nothing thinking.

For me too and I was shocked when I discovered that I did so much emotional reasoning. When I read the ten forms of distorted thinking it just didn't seem possible to me that my own feelings could have such a great influence on how I perceived everything around me. I am very glad that CBT has worked for you and has helped you effectively talk back to that negative inner voice Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

My favorite statement to myself is "Everyone does thing like this. I am the same as everyone else. I am not perfect and they are not either." This was the most freeing of all statements as I always felt isolated and separate from the group. I thought that everyone else was so much better than me and didn't have the kinds of experiences or thoughts that I did. I think time and experience proved me wrong on this.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful statement!

2 - Honestly, I don't think my inner critic is anyone elses voice - other than "little beefree", so to speak. I think "little beefree" was so scared of the unpredictable storms of wrath, that she would try to do everything as perfectly as possible, so as not to cause the storms inside uBPD mom to explode - not realizing that the storms really didn't have anything at all to do with her performance, but with the storms going on inside of her mom.

3 - probably mental filter/magnification. For example, this morning I sang lead on three challenging songs, and objectively have to say I did very well. My focus wasn't on wow, that was a great morning, I got to sing three songs and did really well, but I didn't exactly quote the text I spoke, people probably think much less of me.

Thanks for answering these questions beefree! When I look at what you say here it seems that perfectionism or feeling forced to be perfect is something you've struggled with. This could be tied in to all or none thinking which basically means that everything is either totally fantastic or totally rotten, there's nothing in between. When you look at it like this, would you say that all or nothing thinking might also be a factor in how you view yourself and the things you do?

It has gotten better but it is still a struggle and a problem for me especially when i am tired.

…... .

I do know not to rely on the internal dialogue/voice when i am tired, so I will step back and wait before making any decisions.

I totally relate to this! When I'm tired is when I seem to be the most susceptible to emotional reasoning. And now that I'm aware just how powerful emotional reasoning can be, I too just take a step back so I can rest and get my energy level back up.

When I started thinking about this, I realized it is like they are fused.  The negative, self-defeating and demoralizing beliefs I have about myself are definitely from my mother, but I internalized those projections to the point where they were/are beliefs that I have.  It goes beyond just the projections.  Is this where projective Identification comes into play?  I think so, but I am no expert.

I find this very interesting Harri. What happens to a person when you've been listening to that internalized negative for so long? Is is still possible to separate from it then or has it become your new identity? Regardless of the answer to these questions, the techniques you mention can be used to effectively untwist any negative thoughts you might have.

Your comments are definitely food for thought... .projective identification... .I think we can start a whole new thread about that!  You feel like your own voice is completely fused with your mother's voice. How long have you been applying cognitive behavior techniques? In my case I noticed I went through stages. The negative voice was so loud it was hard to recognize my own voice in there but after applying the techniques for 2 to 3 years, the volume of my negative inner voice had been reduced to the point that I started to feel another shift inside of me. Just like something was switched on again, perhaps that's what it feels like when you start to extract your own voice from the negative internalized voice. Talking back to this negative inner voice is still very much a struggle for me though and I'm still very mindful of any distorted thinking patterns that might be going on in my mind.

Thank you all for sharing! Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #26 on: January 27, 2015, 01:10:30 AM »

Another thing I do is use the list of 10 ways to untwist my thoughts, also by David Burns, MD.  One of his ways to untwist is to use the survey method where you ask (trusted) people if your thoughts or attitudes are realistic.  I try not to use this too often as one, I want to figure it out on my own and two, I don't want to wear out my welcome with my friends!  But once I get some feedback I can then tell myself that voice does not know what it is talking about. 

The list Harri mentions here can be very helpful when trying to talk back to you negative inner voice. Just the other day Harri posted the entire list on here and because it's so helpful I've re-posted it here:

Quote from: Harri
Now that you've identified your twisted thinking, use the suggestions of Dr. David Burns to help you untwist those thoughts.

1. Identify The Distortion: Write down your negative thoughts so you can see which of the ten cognitive distortions you're involved in. This will make it easier to think about the problem in a more positive and realistic way.

2. Examine The Evidence: Instead of assuming that your negative thought is true, examine the actual evidence for it. For example, if you feel that you never do anything right, you could list several things you have done successfully.

3. The Double-Standard Method: Instead of putting yourself down in a harsh, condemning way, talk to yourself in the same compassionate way you would talk to a friend with a similar problem.

4. The Experimental Technique: Do an experiment to test the validity of your negative thought. For example, if during an episode of panic, you become terrified that you're about to die of a heart attack, you could jog or run up and down several flights of stairs. This will prove that your heart is healthy and strong.

5. Thinking In Shades Of Grey: Although this method may sound drab, the effects can be illuminating. Instead of thinking about your problems in all-or-nothing extremes, evaluate things on a scale of 0 to 100. When things don't work out as well as you hoped, think about the experience as a partial success rather than a complete failure. See what you can learn from the situation.

6. The Survey Method: Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and attitudes are realistic. For example, if you feel that public speaking anxiety is abnormal and shameful, ask several friends if they ever felt nervous before they gave a talk.

7. Define Terms: When you label yourself 'inferior' or 'a fool' or 'a loser,' ask, "What is the definition of 'a fool'?" You will feel better when you realize that there is no such thing as 'a fool' or 'a loser.'

8. The Semantic Method: Simply substitute language that is less colorful and emotionally loaded. This method is helpful for 'should statements.' Instead of telling yourself, "I shouldn't have made that mistake," you can say, "It would be better if I hadn't made that mistake."

9. Re-attribution: Instead of automatically assuming that you are "bad" and blaming yourself entirely for a problem, think about the many factors that may have contributed to it. Focus on solving the problem instead of using up all your energy blaming yourself and feeling guilty.

10. Cost-Benefit Analysis: List the advantages and disadvantages of a feeling (like getting angry when your plane is late), a negative thought (like "No matter how hard I try, I always screw up", or a behavior pattern (like overeating and lying around in bed when you're depressed). You can also use the cost benefit analysis to modify a self-defeating belief such as, "I must always try to be perfect."

Quote from: Harri


Take each distorted thought and go through the list step by step.  It can be a bit tedious and sleep inducing  Smiling (click to insert in post) , but it does work wonderfully well in terms of helping slow down what I call the crazy train... .you get to pick your own name for it!

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« Reply #27 on: January 27, 2015, 05:32:30 PM »

Hi again! 

Excerpt
I find this very interesting Harri. What happens to a person when you've been listening to that internalized negative for so long? Is is still possible to separate from it then or has it become your new identity? Regardless of the answer to these questions, the techniques you mention can be used to effectively untwist any negative thoughts you might have.

I don't know the answers to those questions.  It was so easy to just blame my mother, but in answering here, I discovered her voice and mine are all twisted together.  So I am very happy to read the bolded part.  I agree that the actual source does not matter when it comes to silencing or quieting the voices.  Thanks for the moment of self-discovery Kwamina... .and the hope!

Excerpt
How long have you been applying cognitive behavior techniques?

Not long enough and not consistently enough.  I first learned about some of them several years ago.  I used them for a while and did very well at changing things.  Some of the lessons stuck, but so many i seem to forget.  And then i got busy with life stuff and I let it all get away from me, forgetting, or maybe not realizing, that this is going to be a life long process for me (so now I take every opportunity I get to remind myself of that fact.  LOL)  I do know based on previous work that things will get easier and some will become more automatic as I practice but healing/recovery will be a daily choice for me  (and I keep reminding myself of that too... .it is what it is <--- I hate that phrase!)  Oh yeah, I also signed up for Mood Gym (it is good and it is free!) but I have not done a whole lot of work there yet.  I plan to though. 

Excerpt
In my case I noticed I went through stages. The negative voice was so loud it was hard to recognize my own voice in there but after applying the techniques for 2 to 3 years, the volume of my negative inner voice had been reduced to the point that I started to feel another shift inside of me. Just like something was switched on again, perhaps that's what it feels like when you start to extract your own voice from the negative internalized voice. Talking back to this negative inner voice is still very much a struggle for me though and I'm still very mindful of any distorted thinking patterns that might be going on in my mind.

Thank you for sharing that.  It helps to see the progress you have made and once again, it gives me hope.  Your experience is a perfect illustration of how this is a process.  Well done Kwamina!  Do you have mantras you tell yourself like clljhns mentioned (love it BTW and plan to borrow it)?

I'm glad you posted the list of ways to untwist... .I did not want to hi-jack or divert this thread!  Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #28 on: January 27, 2015, 05:47:41 PM »

Harri,

You are welcome to borrow anything that I post! I think that is the intent and purpose of this site. We need to support each other and if what I said helps you, please feel free to use!

Wishing you all the best! Smiling (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #29 on: January 27, 2015, 08:26:00 PM »

This is a great conversation, and very on-target for what I've been working on in my own world lately.

A therapist told me once that I have a "brutal superego," and the more I dig into the issue, the more I realize just how extensive its reach can be -- much deeper and farther than I previously imagined.

A great deal of that deep-rootedness has to do with the emotional reasoning thing, which was among the last of that David Burns list of thinking patterns that I was able to detect at work in my own mind.  Until I could sense when and how emotional reasoning was occurring in my thoughts (still working on that, too), I was bound to just accept it, as well as a lot of other stuff that issued from it (i.e., other thoughts and feelings, viewpoints, etc.), as aspects of reality, not something my mind was coloring or even generating.

Pete Walker's notion of the "emotional flashback" has helped me immensely, especially when it comes to emotional reasoning and other thought tendencies from Burns' list.

I wanted to chime in here and add that, along with some forms of 'stinking thinking' I inherited directly from my family of origin by absorbing or imitating how I saw them respond, in their own worlds, to various situations and to life in general (e.g., "Mom acts perfectionistic in this situation, so that must be how I should respond when I encounter it, too," etc.), I know there are other forms I took on based on how they treated me in particular: projection, splitting, name-calling and other tendencies (e.g., "Mom calls me spoiled, so I should take that to heart," etc.).

But there is even another component as well, which happened on the level of inference or interpretation, even without my really being aware of it -- kind of like the cumulative effect of years of exposure to all the different behaviors and crises and emotions and reactions that I watched and in which I participated.

To be more specific, what I mean is that there were ways in which I think my inner critic was partly formed that had to do with what I thought I could or should expect from life and from myself based on all of those factors I just mentioned -- e.g., "My mom is an adult and can't manage her life, so life must be too scary -- I think I'll avoid having too many positive expectations for my own life."

I see that sort of thing as somewhat different from impressions I got from imitation or from direct interactions with my family, if that makes sense. My inner critic at times seems to kick in in an attempt to manage down my expectations so I don't get disappointed again, which has meant in the past that I have sold myself short and missed various opportunities because of a nagging feeling that I wasn't "safe" somehow if I took them or that I didn't deserve them.

So, some part of my inner critic's function seems to be to keep me from trying things so I don't get hurt, which sounds reasonable enough, but what it bases that impulse on is often warped ideas about my abilities and my worth.

My $.02 -- thanks!  Smiling (click to insert in post)



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