November 4, 2012 in Anna's Journey to Life
I am continuing my writings on bringing myself back to breath.
As I’ve been walking this point, what I’ve noticed more and more as being relevant to the point of bringing myself back to breath is the point of why and how I am not bringing myself back to breath. What I’ve found so far is that bringing myself back to breath is a decision. That means that NOT bringing myself back to breath is also a decision. These decisions are directed by me, either directly through making choices or indirectly through following automated patterns that again are directed by me. Within this, it is very easy to say that ‘my feelings got the best of me’ – but the fact of the matter is that even the point of automatizing patterns of behavior and then forgetting that we’re the ones who’s automatized these patterns through a directive decision – is a directive decision. Within this there are two points I’ve been looking at. One is in continuation from what I wrote in my last blog post and is about ‘cognitive distortions’ where what I see and even who I am within what and how I see, is a distortion in itself, like an echo of past moments and memories.
The other point is priorities in which I see that if I am making the directive decision to NOT breathe, it must be because that is a priority to me and that this priority, is showing me ‘who’ I am at the base of that priority. What matters to me? What do I value? How do I value? Who do I value? As mentioned in a previous blog post what I found is that my primary focus as I go about my day is ‘me’. After writing this blog post I’ve been more aware of stepping out of this ‘me’ character whenever I would see that I was preoccupied in my mind thinking or back chatting about ‘me’. So if I have a look at a particular stream of back chat that has been nagging within me during the last couple of days, it revolves around whether other people approve of me or not, where I experience much worry and concern towards what I would see as ‘signs’ that these other beings do not approve of me. Now – this is a cognitive distortion. Because I obviously don’t’ know jack shit about other people’s intentions and when I actually go as far as believing my thoughts that form an insane form of logic, I am most certainly ‘cognitively distorted’. So I participate in – and approve of this backchat and even allow myself to become it to such an extent that even as I’ve been writing, this worry and concern has been filling me to the point of where I got very insecure about what I was writing, in the ‘hope’ of being able to present myself in such a way that these other beings would approve of me. This is a priority. Because as I wrote in my last blog post, when I am not here directively breathing, I’ve made the directive decision to live in an illusion. And the illusion is ‘me’.
So the point I am looking at here is how I’ve made these cognitive distortions a priority over breathing and practical living and common sense. The worry and concern thoughts are but one example. Other examples on the positive side of the polarity is desire to consume certain foods or watch certain TV-series. All in all, it is clear to me that I’ve been prioritizing what goes on and comes up in/through/as my mind over actually living and breathing here. I mean that is obvious – simply look at this world and what we’ve created, yet at the same time it needs to be made explicit – for me for myself that the fact that I’m directively making the decision to not be here as breath, because I’ve prioritized living in an illusion instead. So – two points I see here is 1) that I’ve valued what the illusion ‘gave’ me and 2) that I’ve devalued what was real.
An example is this point of desiring approval from others. Why do I seek approval from others? Why am I preoccupied with getting or not getting approval from others? Why is that a priority? Because I’ve accepted that this is the only approval that is possible and relevant. I’ve dismissed myself and projected the point of approval (as an example) on to an external illusionary reality – and within that have abdicated both self-responsibility and the ability or directedness to in fact change myself. And then when I walk around in my daily participation with hundreds and thousands of such points of abdicating myself to an illusion that I’ve placed in ‘the driver seat’ of ‘who I am’ – this is what directs me, moves me, defines me. For example with this point of approval: when I am participating in worry and concern about whether another approves of me or not, I am actively participating in separating myself from myself and the fact that I should know whether or not what I do and who I am is ‘approved’ or not. It should not matter what anyone else thinks or does. And by focusing on being approved by another, I divert the attention and abdicate my own responsibility for being the directive principle in determining ‘who’ I am and whether ‘who I am’ is approvable or not. By leaving that up to someone else, I also give them the responsibility for who I am. So that is basically the point here – the point is thus not that I don’t approve of me and therefore require someone else to approve me for me – the point is that I’ve made someone else responsible for determining whether I can be approved or not. Within and as that, I walk in a constant abdication of self-responsibility and self-trust and self-direction and by participating in this backchat and fear, I accentuate and widen the distance in and through which I separate myself from myself. So the point of priority – to exist in and as a cognitive distortion, where I contort reality – is self-interest. And what is relevant in the word self-interest, is not ‘interest’ but ‘self’ – and by seeing my priorities, I can also see who I am creating and accepting myself as.
Before continuing with self-forgiveness on these points, I’ll share an article I found on cognitive distortion. I did not even know that there is a term in psychology for it, but when I read the article it made complete sense. So I’ll share an excerpt here for reference:
“When you think about your life, it is quite possible that your mind is playing tricks on you that can distort your view. Cognitive distortions — where your mind puts a ‘spin’ on the events you see, and attaches a not-so-objective interpretation to what you experience — happen all the time. They are especially common in people with depression and other mood disorders.
Aaron T. Beck originally came up with the theory of cognitive distortions in the 1960s, and many therapists since then have helped clients live more positive lives by hunting down their cognitive distortions and correcting them. (It’s one of the tenets of a very successful and fast-working mode of therapy called cognitive therapy.)
When you know what to be on the lookout for, it becomes rather easy to spot the cognitive distortions in others. It may be a little more challenging to spot your own, but it is possible. Doing so usually brings lasting positive change in the way you experience stressors in your life.”
The article then shares several typical cognitive distortions that people might participate in:
This type of distortion is the culprit when people think in extremes, with no gray areas or middle ground. All-or-nothing thinkers often use words like “always” and “never” when describing things. “I always get stuck in traffic!” “My bosses never listen to me!” This type of thinking can magnify the stressors in your life, making them seem like bigger problems than they may, in reality, be.
Those prone to overgeneralization tend to take isolated events and assume that all future events will be the same. For example, an overgeneralizer who faces a rude sales clerk may start believing that all sales clerks are rude and that shopping will always be a stressful experience.
Those who tend toward mental filtering may gloss over positive events and hold a magnifying glass to the negative. Ten things can go right, but a person operating under the influence of a mental filter may only notice the one thing that goes wrong. (Add a little overgeneralization and all-or-nothing thinking to the equation, and you have a recipe for stress.)
Disqualifying the Positive
Similar to mental filtering, those who disqualify the positive tend to treat positive events like flukes, thereby clinging to a more negative world view and set of low expectations for the future. Have you ever tried to help a friend solve a problem, only to have every solution you pose shot down with a “Yeah but…” response? You’ve witnessed this cognitive distortion firsthand.
Jumping to Conclusions
People do this one all the time. Rather than letting the evidence bring them to a logical conclusion, they set their sights on a conclusion (often negative), and then look for evidence to back it up, ignoring evidence to the contrary. The kid who decides that everyone in his new class will hate him, and ‘knows’ that they’re only acting nice to him in order to avoid punishment, is jumping to conclusions. Conclusion-jumpers can often fall prey to mind reading (where they believe that they know the true intentions of others without talking to them) and fortune telling (predicting how things will turn out in the future and believing these predictions to be true). Can you think of examples of adults you know who do this? I bet you can.
Magnification and Minimization
Similar to mental filtering and disqualifying the positive, this cognitive distortion involves placing a stronger emphasis on negative events and downplaying the positive ones. The customer service representative who only notices the complaints of customers and fails to notice positive interactions is a victim of magnification and minimization. Another form of this distortion is known as catastrophizing, where one imagines and then expects the worst possible scenario. It can lead to a lot of stress.
This one is a close relative of jumping to conclusions in that it involves ignoring certain facts when drawing conclusions. Emotional reasoners will consider their emotions about a situation as evidence rather than objectively looking at the facts. “I’m feeling completely overwhelmed, therefore my problems must be completely beyond my ability to solve them,” or, “I’m angry with you; therefore, you must be in the wrong here,” are both examples of faulty emotional reasoning. Acting on these beliefs as fact can, understandably, contribute to even more problems to solve.
Those who rely on ‘should statements’ tend to have rigid rules, set by themselves or others, that always need to be followed — at least in their minds. They don’t see flexibility in different circumstances, and they put themselves under considerable stress trying to live up to these self-imposed expectations. If your internal dialogue involves a large number of ‘shoulds,’ you may be under the influence of this cognitive distortion.
Labeling and Mislabeling
Those who label or mislabel will habitually place labels that are often inaccurate or negative on themselves and others. “He’s a whiner.” “She’s a phony.” “I’m just a useless worrier.” These labels tend to define people and contribute to a one-dimensional view of them, paving the way for overgeneralizations to move in. Labeling cages people into roles that don’t always apply and prevents us from seeing people (ourselves included) as we really are. It’s also a big no-no in relationship conflicts.
Those who personalize their stressors tend to blame themselves or others for things over which they have no control, creating stress where it need not be. Those prone to personalization tend to blame themselves for the actions of others, or blame others for their own feelings.”
I see how I participate in all of these and although they’re coming from popular psychology and for example propones ‘positive thinking’ they are also very accurate in describing the self-deceptive patterns we’ll veil ourselves in and through the mind with – to not have to face ourselves and take self-responsibility.
The specific cognitive distortions that I see that I participate in, in relation to the point of seeking approval in others is the Jumping to Conclusions, Emotional Reasoning, Magnification and Minimization and Personalization. I see how I jump to conclusions through looking for signs that verify and validate what I’ve already accepted in my mind: I am not approved and so someone else has to approve me. Within that I see how I’ve been deceiving myself in taking the practical point of not being approved personally and have made another responsible for approving me as a point of self-abdication. I’ve then used emotional reasoning in feeling bad and worried when I believe that someone is disproving of me which further accentuates and endorses the pattern and then I’ve magnified some small gesture or something someone did not do that they’ve done before and jumped to conclusions as to what that means within and as taking it personally. All of these are techniques that, we in and as the mind use to divert attention from ourselves and to create friction and inner conflict and in any and all ways separate ourselves from the actual matters on hand.
So to sum up all the points I’ve brought up here: we use cognitive distortions as smoke screens to hide within and from ourselves. And we’ve made that a priority in our lives, both as a coping- and survival-mechanism but also as a deliberate way to abdicate self-responsibility. I will utilize the points that has come up here in walking through self-forgiveness as part of my decision to bring myself back to breath. So as to enable myself to embrace the new, deconstruct and let go of the old – as that through which I have been making the decision to not bring myself back to breath and instead prioritize cognitive distortions through which I’ve instead enabled myself to abdicate self-responsibility through participating in illusions.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize and understand and admit to myself in self-honesty, that when I accept and allow myself to participate in backchat, thoughts and reactions within and as the mind, I do so as a priority, where I am actively prioritizing what comes up through/as/within the mind over actual physical, practical reality and am thus prioritizing living in an illusion instead of living in reality.
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to prioritize what comes up /through/within and as the mind over practical, physical reality within and I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to deceive myself into believing that it is only through the mind that I can ‘get what I want’ (like approval), not seeing, realizing or understanding that who and what I am within and as the mind, is already a cognitive distortion of reality in itself – as that is in fact its purpose, where not even what I want is real, and as such I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to, as I set myself out to pursue whatever comes up in/through/as my mind, I am sending myself on a wild goose chase into oblivion – because what these cognitive distortions in/of/as the mind is based on, is in fact the deliberate separation of myself from myself as that which I’ve set out to ‘get’ and ‘have’ such as seeking approval in others, instead of investigating the point of approval within and as myself and see how I exist in relation to that word and asking myself why I don’t approve of myself or why I am not approving myself or what approval even is.
So I see, realize and understand that the more I chase something in/through/as the mind, the more I am in fact separating myself from the point I am chasing (such as approval) because the very foundation of that search is based on me having already separated myself from that which I search for – because otherwise, why would I have to search for it? Why not then instead simply bring the point back to myself and either embrace and develop it in and as myself or walk a self-corrective process of getting to understand who I am within and as the point and how I’ve separated myself from/as it?
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize and understand that when I accept and allow myself to interpret another’s actions as disproving of me, through which I would create a fear and a worry and a concern as to why they’re not approving of me, I’ve actively endorsed and prioritized a cognitive distortion within and as myself, through participating with/ in and as the mind through first participate in jumping to conclusions and taking personally and magnifying another’s actions and then within fearing and worrying about that, having ‘sealed the deal’ as in fact confirming for myself that what I am ‘seeing’ in/through/as my mind is real, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that I was in fact looking for something and finding it only because I was looking for it, in separation of and from myself, in a projected external reality, but that the point never in fact ‘left’ me and all I did was to abdicate my own self-responsibility of determining, deciding and directing whether who I am and what I do is ‘approved’ or not. –
I see, realize and understand that what I’ve done within and as this particular pattern of prioritizing cognitive distortions, is to take something that is real – the fact that something I do is disprovable for example, but also the fact that I don’t trust myself to stand up alone, and have made it someone else’s responsibility and so my entire focus has been on proving myself to another so that they could approve me, all the while the real point was the fact that what I did or who I was within that which I wanted approval for, was in fact disprovable or that I simply did not trust myself to stand and be able to determine whether something I do or am is approvable or not and as such made the claim that I can’t take responsibility for approving me and therefore it is okay if who I am and if what I do is disprovable and then I could simply sit and wait for someone else to approve me, completely independent of whether or not what I did and who I was, was in fact approvable.
(By the way, I looked up the word ‘approve’, and it is defined as:
“1: officially accept as satisfactory.(often approve of) believe that someone or something is good or acceptable.
2: archaic prove; show.
And the origin of the word means: c.1300, “to demonstrate, prove;” mid-14c., “to attest (something)
with authority,” from O.Fr. aprover (Mod.Fr. approuver) “approve, agree to,” from L. approbare “to
assent to as good, regard as good,” from ad- “to” (see ad-) + probare “to try, test something (to find if
it is good),” from probus “honest, genuine” (see prove). The meaning extended late 14c. to “to
sanction, endorse, confirm formally” then to “assent to (something) as good” (early 15c.), especially
in reference to the actions of authorities, parliaments, etc.
So basically, I’ve made it someone else’s responsibility to determine and to have the authority to decide whether I am good enough, whether I am acceptable and to confirm and endorse me as such, which is quite convenient in how I’ve stripped myself of both that responsibility and the ability to do so.
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to not see, realize and understand that I am the only one who can determine whether who I am or what I do is approvable, because I am the only one who is responsible for me – no one else can change me for me, no one else can walk my process for me, no one else is inside of me and can be the authority of me, but me.
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to deceive myself into believing that what matters – and what I thus must give priority – is whether or not another approves of me and as such align myself accordingly to make sure that they approve of me, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that the point is not whether or not another approves of me – but me directing myself in self-honesty and self-trust to be able to determine whether or not what I do or who I am within and as a particular point of participation is approvable or not.
I see, realize and understand that if I was taking responsibility for and trusting myself to determine in self-honesty whether who I am and what I do is approvable, I wouldn’t require someone else to approve me, and I also see, realize and understand how I’ve deceived myself through projecting my responsibility for determining whether or not who and what I am is approvable or not onto another, because then if I believed that they approved of me, I could relax and feel good about myself and when I believed that they were not approving of me, I would feel bad about myself and focus on changing my behavior so as to be approved by another – instead of bringing the point back to myself and trust myself to determine whether what I do and who I am within a given point of participation is approvable or not and as such also give myself the responsibility to through determining whether or not what I do or who I am is approvable or not, change and correct myself
I forgive myself that I’ve accepted and allowed myself to, through separating myself from the responsibility and authority of determining whether or not what I do or who I am within and as a particular point of participation is approvable or not, have accepted and allowed myself to deliberately abdicate self-responsibility through projecting this onto another, as someone outside and separate from me that I wait and hope will approve of me and that I worry will not approve of me – and I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to, through this, justify myself in moments and situations where what I do or who I allow myself to be, is in fact disprovable, because I’ve made it someone else’s responsibility to approve and disprove of me
I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to deliberately participate in and create self-distrust and self-doubt towards whether what I do or who I am in a point of participation is approvable or not, as a justification for projecting my self-responsibility and authority and self-honesty of determining whether or not what I do and who I am is approvable or not and accordingly change, correct and re-align myself onto another as outside and separate from me
(I will continue with self-corrective and self-commitment statements in my next post)
Thanks for walking-with!
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