Tuesday, September 15, 2009

chapter six

Chapter Six - Verbal Judo: Learn to talk back when you're under the fire of criticism.

- The only person who can hurt you is you, no matter what other people say.
- If people criticize you, what they say may be right or wrong. If they're wrong, there's nothing for you to be upset about. If they're right, then that's an opportunity for you to improve.
- You can write down what people say and the thoughts that run through your mind in reaction to it. Decide if those statements are logical or not and give logical rebuttals where necessary.

Ways to deal with people who criticize you (who may or may not actually be jerks):
1) empathy - ask the person a series of specific questions designed to find out exactly what he or she means while trying to avoid being judgmental or defensive when asking questions.
2) disarm - find some way to agree with your critic while avoiding sarcasm and defensiveness, and always tell the truth.
3) feedback and negotiation - present your point/view diplomatically.

If you've got a heckler, for example a student in a class you're teaching, you can:

1) immediately thank the person for his/her comments .
2) acknowledge that the points brought up are indeed important
3) emphasize that there is a need for more knowledge about the points raised, and encourage the critic to pursue meaningful research and investigation into the topic.
4) invite the heckler to share his or her views with me further after the close of the session/class.

In conclusion, you can take criticism three ways:
1) think you're no good.
2) think your critic is no good.
3) take the criticism as an opportunity to learn something.

So here's to hoping we all choose number three.

Monday, September 14, 2009

the end of chapter five

Okay, so Chapter Five has bogged me down. Trying to describe every little step of things gets tedious, and knowing that there's more to come before the end of the chapter makes me not want to post. So I'm finishing the whole chapter today.

In summary, do-nothingism is caused by different types of irrational thoughts. Just like depression, you fight those irrational thoughts with rational ones. Types of ways to help yourself:

- Make a daily activity schedule
- Make an anti-procrastination sheet
- Make a daily record of dysfunctional thoughts (and their rational replies)
- Make a pleasure predicting sheet (write down how much satisfaction you predict and actually get out of an activity)
- Make a but-rebuttal chart (knocks down all your excuses with rational responses)
- Learn to endorse yourself (with yet another exercise of writing down your "I suck" thoughts and replacing them with "I rock" thoughts.)
- Tic-toc technique (task-interfering cognitions versus task-oriented cognitions, which I don't really feel like explaining, so I won't.)
- Break down tasks into small components or time segments
- Change "should" statements into "want" statements, based on what action would be to your best advantage.
- Tell nags to shove it and then make decisions based on what you want to do as opposed to what people are telling you to do.
- Visualize success by 1) listing all the positive consequences of doing something you're trying to accomplish 2) learn to meditate/relax 3) while relaxed/meditating, go over the things you listed in the first step.
- Count the number of things you do without being prodded or encouraged by anyone.
- Test your "I can't do [fill in blank]" statements by trying to do what you just said you couldn't do.
- Write down the negative consequences you might have to deal with if you fail at something, then show how you can cope with those consequences.

Most importantly the author points out that action comes before motivation. If you don't feel like doing anything, and do something anyway, then your motivation will come. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

chapter five, part two

Continuing Chapter Five: Do-Nothingism: How to Beat It

Here are the first two suggested methods for beating do-nothingism:

1) Write a Daily Activity Schedule.

In the morning, write out a schedule for your day. Your first column write the time by hours. In the second column, write down your prospective activities (what you want or plan to do). In the third column, write down your retrospective activities (what you actually did during that hour). In the fourth column, mark whether the activity you did was M for mastery (a chore or something you don't want to do) or P for pleasure (something you do for fun) and then rate the activity between 0 and 5 on how much pleasure you gained or how difficult the task was to accomplish. Keep it up for a week.

2) Make an Antiprocrastination Sheet.

This is for getting through one task you don't want to do. An example I'll use for this is cleaning my desk, which is something I hate doing because it seems to be really hard, at least in my mind. First, write down the date. Then, in the first column of your chart, write down the small Activities you need to do to accomplish the big task (in my case, clean the top shelf of the desk, the bottom shelf of the desk, the filing cabinet top, and then wipe everything down.) In the second column, write down your Predicted Difficulty between 0 and 100%. In the third column, write down your Predicted Satisfaction between 0 and 100%. Then do your task. In the fourth column write down the Actual Difficulty of doing the task between 0 and 100%. In the fifth column write down the Actual Satisfaction of doing the task between 0 and 100%. See if there's a difference between what you predicted and what actually happened for your difficulty and satisfaction levels.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

chapter five, part one

Chapter Five is pretty big. So I'm breaking it up into smaller chunks. Here is part one.

Chapter Five: Do-Nothingism: How to Beat It

We covered changing how you think in the previous chapter. You can also change how you act. You don't want to do anything when you're depressed, which is what we call the do-nothing feeling. You want to do nothing. And that causes problems.

Do-nothingism is caused by faulty logic (just like depression). The types of faulty logic are:

1) Hopelessness - life will never get better.

2) Helplessness - your mood appears to be beyond your control because it's influenced by outside factors

3) Overwhelming yourself - everything is too much! too hard! or you think you need to be doing other things instead of what you're doing so you don't finish anything.

4) Jumping to conclusions - "This is going to suck."

5) Self-labeling - "I'm a lazy person."

6) Undervaluing the rewards - the reward is not equal the effort, or disqualifying
the positive (see previous chapter's notes)

7) Perfectionism - setting inappropriate goals and standards

8) Fear of failure - overgeneralization - "If I fail at this, I'll fail at everything." OR product versus process orientation - parenting is a process. your child is the product. you are only responsible for the process, NOT the product.

9) Fear of success - lack of confidence leads you to hide under the table.

10) Fear of disapproval or criticism - leads you to hide under the table.

11) Coercion and resentment - "I should" and "I must" statements makes everything unpleasant

12) Low frustration tolerance - you assume success should be easy and then quit when it's not. Also known as Entitlement Syndrome - feeling entitled to an easy life and getting upset when reality does not conform to your fantasy.

13) Guilt and self-blame - frozen in conviction that you are bad or let others down.

There are several possible treatments for do-nothingism. But we'll cover those in the days to come, since it was 40 pages worth of material.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

chapter four

Chapter Four: Building Self Esteem

Highlights from this chapter include:

You CANNOT EARN worth through achievements (oops), or based on looks, talent, fame, fortune, through relationships, or through approval of others.

The more depressed you are, the more logical and real your twisted thinking feels. Depression is illogical. (Therefore, fight depression with logic!)

Cathartic dumping of depressed thoughts is nice, but the improved feeling is short lived. Finding the origin of thoughts (such as having a traumatic childhood) is insightful but useless.

What IS useful is this writing down what thoughts come into your mind, identifying what kind of cognitive distortion they are, and issuing a rational response. And you HAVE to write it down to make it more concrete, and it's easy to do in a chart format.

Avoid emotional descriptions in your chart such as "I feel crappy" because that's true. You do feel crappy. Whereas "I am crappy" is untrue.

The bottom line to building self esteem is to silence or refute the voice/thoughts in your head that tell you that you are of little or no value.

Friday, September 4, 2009

gone for weekend

We're heading out this weekend to visit family. Won't have access to computer. Sibling watching house and feeding my fish. :)

Prozac makes Cats happy. :)

Have a happy Labor Day Weekend, folks. Toodles!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

chapter three

Chapter Three covers the ten cognitive distortions:

1) All or nothing - seeing everything in black and white with no gray area. For example, "I failed once. I fail at everything."

2) Overgeneralization - "Life ALWAYS sucks."

3) Mental filter - dwelling on only the negative bits while ignoring the positive.

4) Disqualifying the positive - saying the good things you've done or that is said about you don't count.

5) Jumping to conclusions -
a. mind reading - guessing someone else's thoughts. "He must think I'm an idiot."
b. fortune telling - expecting a poor future. "Life will always, inevitably suck."

6) Magnification and minimization (aka the binocular trick) -
a. magnification - blowing small errors out of proportion.
b. fortune telling - minimizing your good qualities.

7) Emotional reasoning - You think emotions equal the truth. "If I feel like a jerk, then I must be a jerk."

8) Should statements - "I should/must do this."

9) Labeling and mislabeling - a form of extreme overgeneralization. "I am a moron." or "She's a jerk."

10) Personalization - assuming it's your fault for things that aren't in your control. "My kid's misbehavior is my fault."


I can see all of these in operation in my life. I was kindof disturbed that using "I should..." statements is in here, because that's how I keep myself operating. "I should get up in the morning. I should eat breakfast. I should do the things I need to do in order to keep life going..." How am I supposed to operate without that list?