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Does challenging your thoughts ever cause to feel like you're lying to yourself?

Trixie

Well-Known Member
#1
Thought challenging? Thought stopping? I'm not even exactly sure what that particular "technique/coping skill" is called, but I've often had problems using it because the result is I feel like I'm lying to myself. There's also my tendency to feel terribly guilty when I can't make myself believe the alternative thought. For me it's the same as toxic positivity or using motivational quotes. Those are things that must be very specific and believable in order for me to get any benefit from them whatsoever, which is rarely the case. To be beneficial they can't invalidate what I'm actually feeling.

For example, take the thought, "It's too late for me to accomplish my career goals." Now, I could probably list more than a dozen valid reasons why I believe this to be true. Most people would quip, "No, it's never too late," or list any number of people who have succeeded later in life despite incredible challenges. The thing is, those people are the exception, not the rule. Statistically speaking, the number of people who are able to overcome challenges, secure the resources, find the motivation, and succeed is incredibly low in comparison to those who cannot. To believe otherwise, would be a lie. I mean, sure, I could keep telling myself that I will be one of those exceptions (and I did for the longest time); yet at the same time, I felt guilty and ashamed of myself every time an obstacle sent me back to square one or each time someone called my career aspirations a "hobby" rather than acknowledging the hard work and time I was actually putting into it.

One of the main reasons why I vehemently refuse to tell people any of my long-term or short-term goals is that I'm easily influenced by other people's negativity as much so as my own negativity. I'm highly sensitive in that way (in addition to so many other ways). It creates a cycle of confirmation bias when others reinforce the same negative thoughts I'm already having. Generally speaking, finding that balance between realistic expectations versus delusional thinking at either end of the spectrum is far more difficult than most make it out to be.

How do you make yourself believe an alternate thought? How do you know when a thought is realistic versus a cognitive distortion?
 

sinking_ship

woman overboard
Forum Pro
SF Supporter
#2
Yeah, it's gonna feel like you're lying to yourself bc you've trained yourself so well to believe the negative stuff. My therapist always tells me brains are dumb, and will believe what you tell them. So if you've told yourself a bunch of negative stuff it feels like 'truth' and it takes a while of saying the positive stuff for THAT to feel like 'truth'.

As far as what's realistic versus a cognitive distortion, I think that maybe comes with practice questioning yourself. For my part I a lot of times have to step back and think about what I would tell *someone else*, bc I generally have way unrealistic expectations for myself compared to others.
 

Gonz

Over Cardiac Arrest
#3
I have trouble with this as well. I did not arrive at my "negative beliefs" in a vacuum. I have evidence and experience to back them up.

So, in order to be effective, in order to not feel like a lie, any positive thoughts or beliefs I try to counter or replace them with must also be backed up by at least some evidence.

I am not unwilling to try (as I have been told by professionals in the past). I understand the ideas behind cbt, and have even found them to be effective in dealing with one particular issue I used to struggle with. But that was because, in that case, the positive beliefs I tried to insert in place of the previous negative beliefs were actually based on, like I said before, evidence and experience.

You can't just tell me "Hey, believe this instead of that" unless you can give me at least some crumb of a reason to believe it. Repetition isn't enough to make something that feels like a lie start to feel true.
 

Lara_C

Forum Pro
SF Supporter
#4
Thought challenging? Thought stopping? I'm not even exactly sure what that particular "technique/coping skill" is called, but I've often had problems using it because the result is I feel like I'm lying to myself
How do you make yourself believe an alternate thought? How do you know when a thought is realistic versus a cognitive distortion?
I just let my thoughts be, accepting they are there and watching them come and go in a train. You can pay attention to each thought as it comes then goes, noticing it is nothing more than a thought, without getting carried away by the train . Just stay still as the watcher, let the thoughts go and don't grab hold of them. If they're accompanied by strong feelings, focus on them as pure sensations and they too will fade into nothingness. You'll notice a new thought arises as the old one vanishes. If you just observe this process you will notice there are tiny gaps between every thought which become longer as you focus on them, and that you are still present in the thought free gaps. There is an other aspect of us which is distinct from the thoughts which come and go before us, which we've rarely paid attention to before. It's just being ourselves free of any disturbing negative thought, and free of all thoughts. You don't need to try to force yourself to believe positive things about yourself instead of negative ones, you only need to find and be yourself.

I think people who succeed in their goals despite all the challenges they face are those who have found their way out of the self repeating cycle of self and life sabotaging thoughts . When we let them go instead of holding on to them and being carried away by them from ourselves as the quiet, still, ever present witness of all the activity in our minds, there is no need to force ourselves to think positively .
 
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