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The distinction between social anxiety disorder and social anxiety is a matter of severity; reference to one includes the other. The recovery tools and techniques provided apply to most emotional malfunctions, including depression, substance abuse, ADHD, PTSD, generalized anxiety, and self-esteem and motivation issues. These malfunctions originate homogeneously, their trajectories differentiated by environment, experience, and the diversity of human thought and behavior.
Cognitive Distortion #1
Defense mechanisms are temporary safeguards against situations challenging for our minds to manage. They are mostly unconscious and automatic psychological responses designed to protect us from our fears/anxieties. We deny, avoid, and compensate rather than confront our problems. Some individuals, however, are conscious of the power of defense mechanisms to misinform, distract, and deceive. They rationalize their behaviors or project them onto others.
Notwithstanding their designation, many defense mechanisms support recovery when utilized appropriately. Some, like avoidance, humor, and isolation, need no explanation. Others, such as compensation and dissociation, can have positive values in recovery.
Cognitive distortions, on the other hand, are generally unhealthy. They are exaggerated and irrational thought patterns that perpetuate our anxiety and depression. In recovery, we identify these self-destructive processes and, over time, eliminate them from our thoughts and behaviors.
Space is Limited
By cognitively distorting our reactions and responses to situations, we twist reality to reinforce or justify our toxic behaviors and validate our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions. Our attitudes refer to our emotions, convictions, and behaviors. Rules are the principles or regulations that influence our behaviors, and our assumptions are what we believe to be accurate or authentic. Social anxiety and other emotional dysfunctions compel us to create inaccurate self-perceptions.
Understanding how we use cognitive distortions as subconscious strategies to avoid facing certain truths is crucial to recovery. SAD drives our illogical thought patterns. Countering them requires mindfulness of our motives and rational responses. Our compulsion to twist the truth to validate our negative self-appraisal is powerful; it is vital to understand how these distortions sustain our social anxiety.
We are highly susceptible to cognitive distortions when under stress. They are emotional IEDs, capable of destroying our confidence and integrity. Cognitive distortions are rarely cut and dried but tend to overlap and share traits and characteristics. Because of their similarities, distinguishing one from the others is challenging, but as long as we remain mindful of their self-destructive nature, we can learn to recognize and even anticipate them to devise rational responses. After time and with practice, our reactions become automatic and spontaneous.
The number of cognitive distortions listed by experts ranges substantially. There are thirteen that are particularly germane to social anxiety They are always being right, blaming, catastrophizing, control fallacies, emotional reasoning, the fallacy of fairness, filtering, heaven’s reward fallacy, jumping to conclusions, labeling, overgeneralization, personalization, and polarized thinking. Emotional reasoning is the most prevalent and the ostensible progenitor of the others.
Emotional reasoning is making judgments and decisions based only on feelings – relying on our emotions over objective evidence. The colloquialism “my gut tells me” best defines this irrational thinking.
Emotional reasoning dictates how we comprehend reality and relate to the world. At the root of this cognitive distortion is the belief that what we feel must be true. If we feel like a loser, then we must be a loser. If we feel incompetent, then we must be incapable. If we make a mistake, we must be stupid. All the negative things we feel about ourselves, others, and the world must be valid because they feel genuine
Influence on Other Cognitive Distortions
The irrational thought patterns that underscore our cognitive distortions stem from the SAD-provoked convictions we are helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. These emotional attributions project our response and reaction to life’s confrontations.
For example, when we engage in filtering, we selectively ignore the positive aspects of a situation because of our negativity bias and adverse self-appraisal. This unbalanced perspective leads to polarized thinking, where we perceive things only in black or white. Because of our negative self-beliefs and image, we assume everything that happens is our fault, and anything said derogatorily reflects on us.
Our friends and associates are busily engaged with other people at a social event. We assume we are tedious and undesirable. Our emotional reasoning then devolves into other cognitive distortions such as personalization, internal blaming and control fallacies.
Emotions are the immediate feelings that we express in response to our situational fears/anxieties. By themselves, emotions can have limited relevance to the truth of an experience or situation. Emotions are products of what we think or assume is happening and our subsequent reaction. Evidence, observation, and facts are secondary considerations.
We are hard-wired to be swayed by our emotions. They are our go-to reactions and responses because they are unconscious and automatic. If we have distorted thoughts and beliefs, our emotions reflect them. We likely misinterpret reality when we make judgments and decisions based on our feelings without supporting evidence.
Maintaining a Balanced Perspective
Most oxymorons are contradictory figures of speech that cancel each other out, e.g., the openly deceptive jumbo shrimp. However, the combined astuteness of emotion and reasoning projects a balanced perspective. Individuals who consider both in their reactions and responses are shrewd analysts who listen to their hearts while logically considering the evidence and alternatives.
Staying in touch with our feelings or trusting our instincts is healthy, provided they correspond with reality. Because SAD sustains itself on our irrational thoughts and feelings, however, we are prone to making poor decisions. A balanced perspective mitigates this propensity.
Resolving Emotional Reasoning
Recovery requires a rational response-based strategy for psychological balance that considers the simultaneous mutual interaction of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. We identify our fears/anxieties and corresponding automatic negative thoughts, devising rational responses. We learn to rechannel our emotional angst into intellectual self-awareness. We reframe our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions by considering facts, evidence, and multiple perspectives.
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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT? ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional malfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing neuroscience and psychology including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.