Category Archives: Empowerment

Words that Impede Recovery

Robert F.Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

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<29>
Words that Impede Recovery

“I believe that a negative statement is poison.
I’m convinced that the negative has power. It lives.
And if you allow it to perch in your house,
in your mind, in your life, it can take you over.”
— Maya Angelou

Words have enormous power; they influence, encourage, and destroy. They are a source of compassion, creativity, and courage. They evoke desire, emotion, fear, and despair. They lift our spirits, inspire our imagination, and plunge us into the depths of despair. 

We have three primary recovery objectives: To (1) replace or overwhelm our life-consistent negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones, (2) produce rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation to change the polarity of our neural network, and (3) regenerate our self-esteem by regaining mindfulness of our attributes. Positivity is the catalyst for each.

Childhood disturbance prompts our negative core beliefs; our intermediate beliefs, influenced by SAD, establish the attitudes, rules, and assumptions that produce maladaptive understandings of the self and the world. Once again, 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 true or real. The common element is their toxic energy which we convey in the words we use.

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These core and intermediate beliefs generate a cognitive bias that compels us to misinterpret information and make irrational decisions. Since humans are hard-wired with a negative bias, we respond more favorably to adversity. Add our SAD symptomatology to this mix and our neural network is replete with toxic information.

We are consumed and conditioned by negative words. By the age of sixteen, we have heard the word no from our parents, roughly, 135,000 times. Some of us use the same unfortunate words over and over again. The more we hear, read, or speak a word or phrase, the more power it has over us. Our brain learns through repetition.

It is not just the words we say out loud in criticism and conversations. The self-annihilating words we silently call ourselves convince us we are helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. They cause our neural network to transmit chemical hormones that impair our logic, reasoning, and communication, impacting the parts of our brain that regulate our memory, concentration, and emotions. The illusory truth effect defines how, when we hear the same false information repeated again and again, we come to believe in its veracity. Telling ourselves, repeatedly, we are incompetent and unlikeable, and other forms of negative self-labeling has the same effect – even when we intellectually know that the misinformation is false.

Before recovery, our neural circuits are structured around emotionally hostile information. While positive words boost our self-esteem and self-image, contradictory words support our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions. Negative absolutes like no one, nobody, nothing, and nowhere substantiate our isolation and avoidance of relationships. Qualifiers such as barely, maybe, and perhaps invalidate our commitment, while self-beliefs expressed by can’t, shouldn’t, and won’t support our sense of incompetence.

There are three categories of words to be mindful of and eliminate from our thoughts and vocabulary: 

Pressure Words like should and would equivocate our commitment. “I should start my diet” essentially means, maybe I will and maybe I won’t. Pressure words give us permission to change our minds, procrastinate, and fail. (We are either on a diet or will be on a diet.) The pressure comes from the guilt of potentially doing nothing (I should’ve done that). Compare “I shouldn’t drink at the office party” to “I will not drink at the office party.” 

Negative Absolute Words. The impact of won’t and can’t is obvious. Our objective in recovery is to replace or overwhelm toxic with healthy neural information – positive over negative. Consider the two statements: “I won’t learn much from that lecture” and “I will learn something from that lecture.” Which one offers the probability we will attend? Negative absolute words include never, impossible, and every time. “Every time I try…”

Conditional Words like possibly, maybe, might weaken our commitment. “Maybe I will start my diet” is not a firm commitment. Conditional words originate in doubt and manifest in avoidance and procrastination. Other examples include ought, must, and have to. Qualifying or conditional words or statements give us an excuse to opt out. “I will not drink at the office party” is a more robust commitment than “I will not drink at the party unless I get nervous.” Qualifying or conditional words or statements are also pre-justifications for our failures. (I might have won if only … )  

A quick note about the word, hate. Hate is an extremely destructive sentiment to describe something we dislike. “I hate doing the dishes.” Do we really, or do we just dislike doing the dishes? Hate is an emotion; dislike is a feeling. Feelings quickly dissipate while emotions can metastasize. Psychologists argue hate has value in healing. I am less certain because it correlates to rage, resentment, and fear, feelings we seek to moderate. For those of us experiencing SAD, the word is detrimental to recovery.

It is important to recognize the harmful nature of these words and eliminate them from our self-referencing thoughts and vocabulary. They adversely impact the integrity and efficacy of our neural information which impedes recovery. 

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Chapter 25: Affirmative Visualization

Robert F. Mulllen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

This is a draft of Chapter Twenty-Five – “Affirmative Visualization” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. We present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.

<Twenty-Five>
Affirmative Visualization

You are more productive by doing fifteen minutes of visualization
than from sixteen hours of hard labor.” — Abraham Hicks

There are multiple psychological approaches to visualization. Covert Conditioning focuses on eliminating a bad habit by imaginary repetition of the behavior, e.g., smoking cigarettes ad nauseam. In Covert Modeling, we choose a positive role model to visually emulate. Affirmative Visualization is graded exposure ― systematic desensitization that reduces stress and anxiety in a structured, less threatening environment. The process is another powerful tool in recovery from social anxiety and its common comorbidities, especially depression and substance abuse.

We label the process as Affirmative to emphasize the positivity of the visualizations to counteract our natural negative bias and the predisposition of the emotionally dysfunctional to set negative outcome scenarios due to life-consistent negative self-beliefs and images.

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Affirmative Visualization is scientifically supported through studies and the neuroscientific understanding of our neural network. Positive personal affirmations (PPAs) are concise, predetermined, positive statements. Affirmative Visualizations are positive outcome scenarios that we mentally recreate by imagining or visualizing them. Both are underscored by the Laws of Learning, which explain what conditions must be present for learning (or unlearning) to occur and how to accelerate and consolidate the process through proactive neuroplasticity. 

Through Affirmative Visualization, we envision behaving a certain way in a realistic scenario and, through deliberate repetition, attain an authentic shift in our behavior and perspective. It is a form of proactive neuroplasticity, and all the neural benefits of that science are accrued by visualization.

Our brain is in a constant mode of learning; it never stops realigning to information. It forms a million new connections for every input. Information includes experience, muscle movement, a decision, a memory, emotion, reaction, noise, or tactile impression. With each input, connections strengthen and weaken, neurons atrophy and others are born, learning replaces unlearning, energy dissipates and expands, beneficial hormones are neurally transmitted, and functions shift from one region to another. Proactively stimulating our brain with deliberate, repetitive neural information utilizing Affirmative Visualization accelerates and consolidates learning (and unlearning), producing a correlated change in thought, behavior, and perspective. These changes become habitual and spontaneous over time.

Our brain provides the same neural restructuring when we visualize doing something or when we physically do it; the same regions of our brain are stimulated. Just as our neural network cannot distinguish between toxic and productive information, it also does not distinguish whether we are experiencing something or imagining it. Thinking about picking up our left hand is, to our brain, the same thing as literally picking up our left hand.

The thalamus is the small structure within our brain located just above the stem between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain. It has extensive nerve connections to both. All information passes through the thalamus and onto the millions of participating neurons. By visualizing an idea or performance repeatedly for an extended period, we increase activity in the thalamus and our brain responds as though the idea is a real object or actually happening.

Our thalamus makes no distinction between inner and outer realities. It does not distinguish whether we are imagining something or experiencing it. Thus, any idea, if contemplated long enough, will take on a semblance of reality. If we visualize a solution to a problem, the problem is systemically resolved because visualizing activates the cognitive circuits involved with our working memory.

That correlates to our subconscious which cannot differentiate an imagined situation from a real one. Whatever we visualize or imagine, our subconscious believes it is actually happening.

Research shows that visualizing an event in advance improves our mental and physical performance. When we visualize what we want to achieve, we consciously source information that will improve our performance outcomes, dramatically improving the likelihood of success in the real situation.

Like our positive personal affirmations, Affirmative Visualization is a mental exercise that is most effective through repetition. Let us imagine a hypothetical feared-situation: You have to make a presentation to your classmates. You’ve never given a successful public speech before, but you have identified the reasons for your fears. Now recreate the scenario in your mind, just as you have planned it. Close your eyes and use your imagination to experience the entirety of the situation. Use all your senses as you walk yourself through the steps you have created in your strategy plan.

See the room. You know the students and the instructor and where they are positioned. What are they wearing? Feel the atmosphere of the room. Is it warm, crowded, joyful? What does it smell like? Is the air stale or clean from the open windows? You have already devised your strategy and the actions or measurable steps that will help achieve that goal. You know how you are presenting yourself – your quality of character, your attitude, and how you are dressed for maximum effect. Find three stationary items in the room that you can focus on when you feel stressed or that rush of cortisol and adrenaline. You have created diversions in your presentation – a PowerPoint that you will transfer to a screen, and a laser pointer. Focus on your character and persona. Interact with small talk and slow talk. Imagine utilizing all the tools of recovery.

Allow for the unexpected – that is why you have prepared distractions and diversions. Give your presentation as you have rehearsed it a number of times. Grasp or lean on the podium. Work your PowerPoint and use the laser to emphasize the information on the slides.

Visualize the event and its successful outcome as many times as you can. Imagine each detail, your attitude, and the reaction of the audience. Mentally practice your walk, gestures, and posture. Use your slow talk for added emphasis. Imagine the influx of cortisol and adrenaline dissipating every time you take a deep breath or speak with practiced self-assurance. Set reasonable expectations. Not only will you exceed them just by showing up and speaking in front of the class but because you are well-rehearsed, and have a plan that covers every contingency.  

Through repetition, your subconscious mind has already witnessed a productive and successful presentation. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, you will anticipate, think, speak, and behave in a way that is consistent with your newly formed self-belief that you are more than capable of achieving your goal with energy, enthusiasm, and panache.

We can visualize mitigating anxiety and performing better, or we can envision being a more empathetic or competent individual. Our neural repatterning will help us achieve those goals. The more we visualize with a clear intent the more focused we become and the higher the probability of achieving our goal. It activates our dopaminergic-reward system, decreasing the neurotransmissions of anxiety and fear-provoking hormones, and accelerating and consolidating those that make learning more accessible. In addition, when we visualize, our brain generates alpha waves which, neuroscientists have discovered, can dramatically reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

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Comments. Suggestions. Constructive Criticism.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

ReChanneling: Updates and Happenings, Winter 2022-23.

Matty Saven
Media Consultant

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Video #7: Constructing Our Neural Information

ReChanneling uploaded the seventh video installment on Proactive Neuroplasticity. Neural information is constructed by establishing our goal, identifying the objectives or steps we take to implement that goal, and determining the Information – the self-affirming or motivating statement we deliberately and repetitively input into our neural network. We want our information to be authentic and of sound construction to engage the full capacity of positive neural response. The integrity of our goal, objectives, and information correlates to the durability and efficacy of neural restructuring.

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

These and other instructional videos are currently hosted by YouTube, BitChute, ReChanneling, Regimed Pharmacy, and other supporting organizations.

Workshops

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Upcoming Book (2023)

Multiple draft chapters from ReChanneling’s book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities are posted on our website. We present them as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). LINK.

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Clio’s Psyche and Other Publications

Dr. Mullen’s article “Utilizing Psychobiography to Moderate Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder” is recently published in the Winter 2022 issue of Clio’s Psyche (Volume 18, Issue 2). The peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, founded in 1994, is published by the Psychohistory Forum, holding regular scholarly meetings in Manhattan and at international conventions.

Mullen’s “Broadening the Parameters of the Psychobiography” in Psychobiographical Illustrations on Meaning and Identity in Sociocultural Contexts has been uploaded to ResearchGate and Academia.edu. Edited by C.-E. Mayer, P. Fouche, R. van Niekerk, the book is published by Palgrave-Macmillan. Contact us to request a copy.

LINK to Other Publications

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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate, repetitive, neural information.”— WeVoice (Spain)

“ReChanneling’s Social Anxiety Workshop produced results within a few sessions … I’m now much more at ease in situations that were major sources of anxiety and avoidance just a few months ago. The shared experience of working through social anxiety with other people who “get it” is powerful, and I’ve felt Dr. Mullen is truly committed to our growth and recovery.”   — Liz D.

“I like Robert’s SAD recovery program, especially how it’s taking many of my negative thoughts away and replacing them with positive ones. I also appreciate the others that are in our recovery group, as we all mingle quite well. And, of course, Robert is always there as nurturing and positive friend.” — Michael Z.

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Academia.edu

Academia.edu continues to offer two ReChanneling courses: Neuroscience and Happiness: A Guide to Neuroplasticity and Positive Behavioral Change and Social Anxiety in the LGBTQ+ Community.

Latest Posts

… and, of course, everything on the ReChanneling website is constantly updated as the program continues to evolve and flourish.

Discussion Groups

ReChanneling currently facilitates over 1000 individuals with social anxiety disorder in our two discussion groups. Social Anxiety and Proactive Neuroplasticity and LGBTQ+ Social Anxiety Group.

A third discussion group, ReChanneling: Recovery and Empowerment focuses on proactive neuroplasticity in the pursuit of goals and objectives.

Workshops and Speaking Engagements

  • January 3rd — Pride Toastmasters
  • January 26th March 30th — Social Anxiety Disorder Workshop
  • January 28th  — Empowerment with Proactive Neuroplasticity (Online)
  • February 24th Proactive Neuroplasticity: Lake Shore Unitarian Society, Winnetka, IL 
  • February 26th – April 10th — Proactive Neuroplasticity Empowerment Workshop

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Chapter 12: Positive Personal Affirmations

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChannelng

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

This is a draft of Chapter Twelve – ‘Positive Personal Affirmations” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. I present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions that I gratefully consider and evaluate as I work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.

<Twelve>
Positive Personal Affirmations

The positive thinker sees the invisible,
feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”
Winston Churchill

One of the most effective ways to input neural information is through positive personal affirmations (PPAs) – our self-empowering, motivating statements of purpose. Practicing positive personal affirmations is an extremely productive form of DRNI or the deliberate, repetitive, neural input of information. 

On the surface, creating positive personal affirmations (PPAs) sounds easy, but it is deceptively complex for SAD persons. The theory is by deliberating repeating PPAs, the power of suggestion instigates positive changes in our thoughts and behaviors. We persuade ourselves to believe what we tell ourselves. Those of us living with social anxiety disorder, however, are not so easily fooled. Years of negative self-beliefs cannot simply be overwhelmed by a few choice words. It is difficult enough to say something self-supportive, much less believe it. 

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I know many of you are skeptical. SAD drives us to distrust unfamiliar ideas and concepts. How can anything this simple contribute so significantly to the restructuring of our neural network? Our resistance to positive reinforcement is robust. Since childhood, we have been badgered by parents and teachers to think positively, but they never understood the science. Cajoling someone to do something without explanation is like teaching a puppy to walk on its hind legs. It eventually learns, but only under duress, and probably resents us. It also does not perform without an audience. 

Many of us disparage the new-age implications of PPAs. Even when we become mindful of the obvious benefits of positive reinforcement in neural realignment, we dismiss it as silly and boring. Nonetheless, if we do the work – if we construct three viable PPAs and repeat them at least five times a day for one week, we will experience a perceptible change in our attitude and outlook on life. Trust me on this; I have experienced and witnessed the change.

That’s why mindfulness of the science behind proactive neuroplasticity is so important. If our PPAs meet the criteria for good information, our neural network will recognize them and restructure accordingly, whether we believe our information or not. Remember, our brain doesn’t think; it is an organic reciprocator. It doesn’t distinguish healthy from toxic information. Positive information in, positive energy reciprocated in abundance. Conversely, negative information in, negative energy reciprocated in abundance. So, telling ourselves PPAs are a waste of time because we don’t believe in them is not only self-annihilating but also incorrect. 

In defining his counteroffensive in war, Sun Tzu wrote, “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” That is what we are doing with the deliberate, repetitive neural input (DRNI) of our PPAs. We are breaking down our brain’s resistance to healthy thoughts and behaviors due to our life-consistent negative self-beliefs by barraging it with positive information. Executing PPAs properly initiates the rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation that causes positive neural chain reactions. PPAs are the most effective form of DRNI. That they also help us focus on goals, challenge negative, self-defeating beliefs, and reprogram our subconscious minds should confirm their value. 

Neurons don’t act by themselves but through neural circuits that strengthen or weaken their connections based on electrical activity. The deliberate, repetitive, input of information compels neurons to fire repeatedly, causing them to wire together. The more repetitions, the more robust the new connections. 

Neuroscientist, Donald Hebb was a pioneer in establishing the correlation between psychology and neuroscience as it relates to behavior. Hebbian Learning is a complex algorithm that is best summarized as “neurons that fire together wire together.” That means the simultaneous activation of nearby neurons leads to an increase in the strength of synaptic connections between them. While our input of information is not simultaneous no matter how quickly we repeat it, the corresponding reactivity of participating neurons produces the same response. DRNI accelerates and consolidates learning by causing neural circuits to strengthen and power information.

In addition, as we now know, multiple repetitions of positive information activate millions of neurons that reciprocate that energy in abundance. PPAs decrease the flow of the fear and anxiety-provoking hormones, cortisol and adrenaline while simultaneously producing hormones for memory, learning, and concentration. PPAs amplify the activity of our axon pathways, creating higher levels of BDNF (brain-derived neural factor) proteinsWe accelerate learning and unlearning through repetition.

Like any neural input of information, PPAs spark receptor neurons that forward positive energy to millions of participating neurons, causing a cellular chain reaction in multiple interconnected areas of our brain. A colleague visualizes her PPAs as holiday fireworks. The receptor neuron is the match, the sensory and postsynaptic neurons are the fuse, and the cacophony of colors and sounds simulate the neural chain reaction. 

Three PPAs repeated five times, three times daily generates forty-five cellular chain reactions, dramatically accelerating and consolidating the restructuring of our neural network. The process takes approximately five minutes out of our day.

We outlined eight rules for productive neural information in Chapter 10. Mindful of the value of repetition for learning and unlearning, let’s repeat these criteria one more time.

Rational. The only logical recourse to irrational thoughts and behaviors.

Reasonable. Unreasonable aspirations get us nowhere.

Possible. If we are incapable of achieving our goal, there it is unreasonable to pursue it.

Positive. Negative information is counterproductive to positive neural restructuring. 

Goal-focused. If we do not know our destination, we will not know it when we arrive. 

Unconditional. Our commitment must be certain.

First-person present or future. The past is irrevocable.

Brief. Succinct and easily memorized.

The most effective PPAs are calculated and specific to our intention. Are we challenging the negative thoughts and behaviors of our social anxiety? Are we reaffirming the character strengths and virtues that support recovery and transformation? Are we focused on a specific challenge? What is our end goal – the personal milestone we want to achieve? 

PPAs are only one example of the positive coping mechanisms we use in recovery. A structured plan to challenge our feared-situations incorporates Rational Responses to our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs); Character Focus and Persona support our clearly defined Purpose and overall Strategy, while our Projected Positive Outcome predetermines the realization of our efforts. Affirmative Visualizations are positive outcome scenarios that we mentally recreate to counteract our natural negative bias and our predisposition to set negative outcome scenarios due to life-consistent negative self-beliefs and images. These and other mechanisms are explained in detail when we begin to construct our Plan for Exposure Situations, and they are all supported by the positive construction of our information.

We are engaged in a war that is not easily won. It is a life-consuming series of battles. The process of proactive neuroplasticity is theoretically simple but challenging, due to the commitment and endurance required for the long-term, repetitive process. We do not don tennis shorts and advance to Wimbledon without decades of practice with rackets and balls; philharmonics cater to pianists who have spent years at the keyboard. Neural restructuring requires a calculated regimen of deliberate, repetitive, neural information that is not only tedious but also fails to deliver immediate tangible results, causing us to readily concede defeat and abandon hope in this era of instant gratification. Fortunately, the universal law of compensation anticipates this. The positive impact of proactive neuroplasticity is exponential due to the abundant reciprocation of positive energy and the neurotransmissions of hormones that generate the motivation to persevere. Proactive neuroplasticity utilizing positive personal affirmations dramatically accelerates and consolidates learning and unlearning.

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Repeat Offender

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChannelng

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Cognitive Distortion #7: Overgeneralization

When we engage In this cognitive distortion, we draw broad conclusions or make statements about something or someone unsupported by the available evidence. We make blanket claims that can’t be proven or disproven. Everyone knows Suzie is a liar. To imply that everyone thinks Suzie is a liar is an exaggeration without consensus. A few colleagues may share our opinion, but not the whole world. We overgeneralize when we base our conclusions on one or two pieces of evidence while ignoring anything to the contrary. 

Overgeneralization supports our negative self-beliefs and image. If someone rejects us, we assume everyone will find us undesirable. Because we persuade ourselves it is unlikely anyone is interested in getting to know us, we avoid situations where that might occur. That aggravates our SAD-induced fears of intimacy and avoidance of social situations.

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Our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are usually overgeneralizations. “No one will like me.” “I’m a failure.” “She called me stupid.” “Everyone thinks I’m an idiot.” These self-defeating thoughts are based on our fears and anxieties rather than the available evidence. An example of overgeneralization would be the false assumption that, because you failed a test, you will never be able to pass the course.

We justify our prejudices by overgeneralizing. One bad apple in a group means everyone in the group is rotten. We make broad and inaccurate assumptions about that group based on this one person’s behavior. Overgeneralized thinking can cause us to wrongly judge entire groups of people, which is harmful to self and society.

This distortion inevitably leads to avoidance, limiting our willingness to experience things because we have self-prophesied what will happen based on it happening before. Similar to Filtering, where we ignore the positive and dwell on the negative, and Polarized Thinking, where we see things in black or white, overgeneralization is based on assuming the worst. Keywords that support overgeneralization include allevery, none, never, always, everybody, and nobody. See the section on The Destructive Nature of Negative Words in Chapter Nine. Overgeneralization often tends to be self-fulfilling prophecy and is associated with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD, and OCD.

The rational response to overgeneralization is to (1) consider the accuracy of the statement and consider the available evidence, and (2) identify the situation, fears, and ANTs that compel the need to cognitively distort in the first place.

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

Don’t Take It Personally

Robert F. Mullen
Director/ReChanneling

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

Cognitive Distortion #6: Personalization

If someone says to us, “don’t take it personally,“ we are likely engaging in Personalization. When we engage in this type of thinking, we assume we are the cause of things unrelated to us. We believe that what others do or say is a reaction to us – that random comments are personally relevant. For those of us living with social anxiety disorder, Personalization is symptomatic of our belief we are the center of attention and the subject of criticism or ridicule. 

Personalization is the stepping-stone to internal blaming and internal control fallacies where we wrongly believe we are responsible for things we have little or nothing to do with. As I cautioned earlier, cognitive distortions are not cut-and-dried but ambiguous and overlapping 

Did you ever walk into a room, and everyone suddenly stops talking? If you assume they were talking about you, you are exhibiting an acute case of Personalization

Those of us living with SAD lack the ability to understand things accurately from the perspectives of others. Our self-centeredness drives us to assume irrelevant things involve us. We imagine the world revolves around us which only aggravates our fears of saying or doing the wrong thing and embarrassing ourselves.

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Another aspect of Personalization is when we compare ourselves to the achievements of others. If a coworker receives a commendation, we feel inadequate because we were not honored. Our need to personalize is underscored by our concerns about how others think about us. If we do not receive the acclaim to which we think we are entitled, we believe we are being judged unfairly. The rational response to someone receiving a commendation is to recognize their achievements, but our low self-esteem makes us envious. 

As children, we believe the world revolves around us, and we lack the ability to consider the perspectives of others. We are cognitively incapable of considering the other probabilities. We assume our parents fight because we did something wrong. Most reasonable people grow out of this self-obsession, but SAD subsists on irrationality which makes us feel underappreciated and misunderstood.

Much of recovery focuses on the regeneration of our self-esteem through the renewed mindfulness of our character strengths, virtues, and achievements. 

Proactive Neuroplasticity YouTube Series

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Chapter 13: Strategizing Our Recovery

Robert F.Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

This is a draft of Chapter Thirteen – “Strategizing Our Recovery” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. We present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.

<Thirteen>
Strategizing Our Recovery

“Success depends upon previous preparation,
and without such preparation, there is sure to be failure.”
– Confucius

We are at war and social anxiety disorder is the enemy. Successfully challenging our fears and anxieties requires a strategy. A military strategist is someone skilled in planning the best way to gain an advantage against the enemy to achieve success. As strategists, we identify the vulnerabilities of the enemy and our wherewithal to exploit them. We build the case and create the blueprint for successful engagement. We develop the weapons, propagandize our neural network, and define the territory. Our strategy, skills, and abilities are our weapons. We lead the forces of recovery; no one else can do that for us. Strategist Sun Tzu wrote extensively about enemy terrain and accessibility – entangling ground. narrow passes, and precipitous heights. The hostile terrain is our life-consistent negative thoughts and behaviors. To successfully negotiate it we utilize our strengths, virtues, and achievements.  

Before presenting the Nine-Stops for Rational Response, we have additional key definitions to assimilate. 

Once again, a Situation is a set of circumstances – the facts, conditions, and incidents affecting us at a particular time in a particular place. A Feared-Situation is one that provokes fears and anxieties that negatively impact our emotional well-being and quality of life. Examples range from restaurants and the classroom to job interviews and social events. 

There are two types of situations. Anticipated and recurring situations are those that we know, in advance, provoke our fears and anxieties. Unexpected situations are those we do not anticipate. 

Automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) are anxiety-provoking thoughts, emotions, and images that occur in anticipation of or reaction to a situation. We touched upon them in Chapter 5. They are the unpleasant expressions of our negative self-beliefs that define who we are and how we relate to others, the world, and the future. (“I’m incompetent.” “No one will talk to me.” “I’ll do something stupid.” “I’m a loser.”) 

Identifying situations and unpacking associated fears and ANTs are crucial to recovery.

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As individuals living with social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities, we are challenged by a series of symptoms. Individually, we are not impacted by all of them or by the same ones as others living with SAD. Our issues are as distinctive as our experiences and personalities. The approaches to recovery are targeted to meet these individual needs. Notwithstanding our differences, the Nine-Stop Process for Rational Response works for all anticipated and recurring situations and provides a fluid template for unexpected ones. Moderating our associated fears and corresponding ANTs demands an integrated and targeted approach supported by personal revelation, evaluation, and implementation. Through the following steps, we learn to: 

Identify our Feared Situation(s). Where are we when we feel anxious or fearful and what activities are involved (what are we thinking, what might we be doing)? Who and what do we avoid because of these insecure feelings? 

Identify our Associated Fear(s). One way to identify our anxiety is to ask ourselves the following: What is problematic for me in the situation? How do I feel (physically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually)? What is my specific concern or worry? What is the worst thing that could happen to me? What do I imagine might happen to me?

Unmask our Corresponding ANT(s). We determine how we express our anxiety. What are our involuntary emotional expressions or images? It helps to visualize the situation and our associated feared reactions. What do we tell ourselves? “No one will talk to me.” I’ll say something stupid.” “I’m a loser.”

Examine and Analyze Our Fear(s) and Corresponding ANTs. What are the causes and trajectory of the negative self-beliefs that precipitate our fears and anxieties? Discovery approaches include cognitive-behavioral modification, cognitive comprehension, introspection, and the vertical arrow technique. Psychoanalysis can help us discover the origins, but recovery is a here-and-now solution

Generate Rational Responses. Through recovery approaches, we learn to identify and accept the irrationality of our fears and ANTs. We discover and analyze the cognitive distortions that we employ to validate or misrepresent our fears. Then we devise rational responses to counter our false assumptions. The character motivations of psychobiography and positive psychology are useful here.

Reconstruct Our Thought Patterns. Through proactive neuroplasticity and cognitive approaches, we convert our thought patterns by replacing or overwhelming our toxic thoughts and behaviors with healthy productive ones. The process is facilitated by the rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation of DRNI (the deliberate, repetitive neural input of information). 

Devise a Structured Plan for Our Feared Situations(s). Utilizing our learned tools and techniques, we develop a plan to challenge our situational fears and anxieties by incorporating predetermined and targeted, coping mechanisms and skills. Together, we will create a structured blueprint in Chapter Twenty-Two.

Practice the Plan in Non-Threatening Simulated Situations. We strengthen our rational responses by repeatedly implementing the Plan in practiced exercises including role play and other workshop interactivities. Affirmative Visualization is a valuable scientific tool.

Expose Ourselves to the Feared Situation. We challenge our anxieties and corresponding ANTs on-site in real life. This transpires after a suitable period of graded exposure to facilitate the reconstruction of our neural network and a familiarity with the prescribed tools and techniques. 

Workshop participants are asked to list their top five anxiety-provoking situations. First on George’s list was speaking in front of a group or audience. His corresponding fears were that he would not be taken seriously and be overwhelmed as the center of attention. His automatic negative thoughts were “I will be criticized” and “They will sneer at my anxiety.” Rational responses to these fears and ANTs are multiple. George chose “I deserve to be here,” “This is a formable presentation,” and “I am as worthy as everyone else.” That fulfilled the first steps in George’s Nine-Stop Process for Rational Response

Our regimen of positive personal affirmations that we assembled in Chapter Ten is expediting our neural energy conversion. (Three PPAs repeated five times, three times daily generate forty-five cellular chain reactions.) As we progress in our recovery, we will utilize our information in incorporating coping mechanisms including projected positive income, intention, and focus into our Structured Plan for Feared Situations. 

A coping strategy is our plan of action, and coping mechanisms are the tools or weapons we bring into play to implement our strategies. Coping skills refer to our adeptness at executing coping mechanisms. Since coping skills are developed through interactivity, role-playing, and practice, our concern here is designing the coping strategy and supporting mechanisms.

Coping Strategies, Mechanisms, and Skills.

To paraphrase the strategic offensive principle of war, “The best defense against social anxiety is a good offense” There are many moving parts to a counteroffensive requiring different levels of responsibility and expertise. At the top, we have our military strategists like Napoleon, Hannibal, and Eisenhower whose roles are to develop structured plans of action to outmaneuver the opponent. In recovery, this is our coping strategy designed to outmaneuver our social anxiety disorder – to take back control. In essence, that is our overriding goal. 

The strategist then identifies the actions or measurable steps needed to achieve the goal. In military jargon, those are the tactics generally implemented by field officers on the ground. In recovery, these are our coping mechanisms – the tools and techniques we utilize to support our strategy. A definitive strategy also identifies what resources are needed to implement the tactics. On the battlefield, the resources are the infantry, its training, and equipment.

This process of strategizing is not linear or trickle-down, but complementary to its accessible assets. A smart military strategist plots the counteroffensive around the available weaponry, the expertise of the field officers, and the numbers and capabilities of the ground troops. In recovery, our coping strategy is fashioned around our ability to execute it. Until we identify our coping mechanisms, we cannot produce a feasible strategy. We will get to that; there is a method to my madness. This lacuna will be resolved in Chapters Eighteen and Twenty where we explore some of the tools and techniques that support our efforts.

In recovery, we do not have strategists to plan our counteroffensive nor officers on the ground to tactically implement it. We are the generals, the field officers, and the foot soldiers. The onus of recovery is on us. We are in an enviable position; recovery through proactive neuroplasticity empowers us to take control of our emotional well-being and quality of life. Master orator, William Jennings Bryan never became president but was the youngest person in U.S. History to be nominated – three times. He wrote, “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

Coping Strategies

There are maladaptive and adaptive coping strategies. Since maladaptive is particular to social anxiety disorder, we focus on adaptive coping strategies to counter our negative thoughts and behaviors. Experts tout problem-focused strategies, emotional-focused strategies, and a plethora of others. For recovery, strategies are primarily response-focused, but all options should be considered and incorporated into the overall strategy for the situation. That will then identify the coping mechanisms to support it. In Chapter Eighteen we will examine the most effective coping mechanisms for unexpected situations, and those that support anticipated and recurring situations in Chapter Twenty.

Defense Mechanisms

Unhealthy or negative coping mechanisms are called defense mechanisms – unhealthy safeguards against the thoughts and emotions that are difficult for our conscious minds to manage. Defense mechanisms are mostly unconscious psychological responses that protect us from our fears and anxieties. They are methods of avoidance – unhealthy responses to SAD-induced conflicts – that offer temporary respite but do little to moderate our anxieties in the long term. Substance abuse, denial, projection, regression, sublimation, and cognitive distortions are common defense mechanisms.

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A word of advice. Don’t be fooled by its negative implications. Defense mechanisms, when used appropriately, can have a beneficial effect on behavior and health decisions. While they are often portrayed in a negative light, some defense mechanisms can be useful tools in our recovery. We will break these down for you in Chapter 17. Without coping mechanisms, healthy or otherwise, we can experience decompensation – the inability or unwillingness to generate effective psychological coping mechanisms in response to stress – resulting in personality disturbance or disintegration.

We use our coping mechanisms and skills in anticipated and recurring situations as well as unexpected ones. For the latter, we cultivate generic skills useful in any stressful occasion. For predetermined situations, we devise a structured plan incorporating predetermined coping mechanisms.

Those of us living with SAD are preoccupied with the future, predicting how things will go wrong. We avoid situations because we anticipate making a fool of ourselves. We dread exposing ourselves to criticism and ridicule. We have beat ourselves up for so long, and the future always looks bleak. Not only are we consumed with anxiety during situations, but we confront it days in advance. We create self-fulfilling prophecies of miserable and lonely solutions. Before recovery, I recall repeatedly circling the block before a social situation to bolster my courage. More often than not, I ended up in the bar rather than the event. Not only did I fear letting myself down, but I guaranteed it through my avoidance. 

Strategizing how to combat our feared-situations is a crucial element of recovery. Knowing what to anticipate and how to effectively respond is challenging enough. Devising fluid strategies to help us moderate unexpected or guerrilla situations is another. Each supports the other as we become more comfortable with practice and implementation. Knowing how SAD impacts us drives us to devise strategies that challenge the situations that seriously impact our emotional well-being.

There are literally hundreds of coping mechanisms that can make those stressful moments in life easier to handle, including yoga, dancing, meditation, eating, painting, writing, and streaming a movie. Anything that takes us out of the stress of the moment and reduces the flow of those pesky chemical hormones. The mechanisms detailed in these chapters are designed specifically to moderate the symptoms of our social anxiety in feared-situations. Once we have achieved that, the rest of our recovery falls into place. With all due respect to Emily Dickenson, we reverse her sequence of events. We take care of the big things and the little things take care of themselves.

Knowing how SAD impacts us allows us to devise strategies that complement our wherewithal to engage coping skills that support our coping mechanisms. Going into a problematic situation without a strategy and functional coping mechanisms is jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In the words of the pioneer of moderation, Benjamin Franklin: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” 

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Comments. Suggestions. Constructive Criticism

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Selective Perspective

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information.” WeVoice (Madrid)  

Cognitive Distortions #4 and #5: Filtering and Polarized Thinking

Our negative core and intermediate beliefs form in response to childhood disturbance and the onset of our emotional dysfunction. Core beliefs are more rigid in those of us living with social anxiety because we tend to store information consistent with negative beliefs. Our intermediate beliefs establish our attitudes, rules, and assumptions. These beliefs govern our perceptions and, ostensibly, remain as our belief system throughout life. Even if irrational or inaccurate, our beliefs define how we see ourselves in the world. When we decline to question these beliefs, we act upon them as though they are real and reasonable, ignoring evidence that contradicts them. This produces the cognitive bias that compels us to misinterpret information and make irrational decisions. 

To compound this, humans have an inherent negativity bias. We are genetically predisposed to respond more strongly to adversity, which aggravates our SAD symptoms. We anticipate the worst-case scenario. We expect criticism, ridicule, and rejection. We worry about embarrassing or humiliating ourselves. We project unpleasant outcomes that become self-fulfilling prophecies. It is not surprising that we readily turn to Filtering and Polarized Thinking to justify these irrational thought patterns. 

Filtering. When we engage in Filtering, we selectively choose our perspective. Our tunnel vision gravitates toward the negative aspects of a situation and excludes the positive. This applies to our memories as well. We dwell on the unfortunate aspects of what happened rather than the whole picture.

Negative filtering is one of the most common cognitive distortions in anxiety because it sustains our toxic core and intermediate beliefs. Our pessimistic outlook exacerbates our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. We accentuate the negative. A dozen people in our office celebrate our promotion; one ignores us. We obsess over the lone individual and disregard the goodwill of the rest. We view ourselves, the world, and our future through an unforgiving lens.

Negative filtering is one of the most common cognitive distortions in anxiety because it sustains our toxic core and intermediate beliefs. Our pessimistic outlook exacerbates our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. We accentuate the negative. A dozen people in our office celebrate our promotion; one ignores us. We obsess over the lone individual and disregard the goodwill of the rest. By dwelling on the unpleasantness, we reinforce our feelings of undesirability and alienation. 

To effectively challenge our tendency to filter information, we need to identify the situation(s) that provokes our anxiety and the corresponding ANTs (automatic negative thoughts). From there, we analyze the unsoundness of our reaction and devise a rational response. Initially, the conversion process is exacting, but with time and practice, it becomes reflexive and spontaneous. Cognitive behaviorists call it ARTs – automatic rational thoughts. 

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Polarized Thinking. One of the symptoms of SAD is our compulsion to overanalyze our performance in a situation, tormented by our mistakes, our inept interaction, or our poor conversation skills. We preoccupy ourselves – often for days on end – with everything we think we did wrong, obsessing over what we should have done better. We tell ourselves unless a thing is done to perfection, it is not worth doing at all.

Perfectionism is not just the desire to do well; it is the need to be infallible. If we can’t be perfect, there is little point in bothering. Perfectionism exacerbates our social anxiety. We worry about appearing vacuous or inadequate, fearing exposure of our imperfections. 

In Polarized Thinking, we see things as absolute – black or white. We are either brilliant or abject failures. Our friends are for us or against us. We do not allow room for balanced perspectives or outcomes. We refuse to give people the benefit of the doubt. Worse than our anxiety about criticism is our self-judgment. If we are not faultless, we must be broken and inept. There is no middle ground, no compromise. There is no middle ground. “I failed my last exam; I fail at everything I try. I’m a loser.”

Perfection is a futile pursuit because it is impossible to attain. In the last chapter, we talked about the criteria for healthy and effective neural information – that it be rational, possible, and reasonable. Perfectionism fulfills none of these.

Like Filtering, Polarized Thinking is selective. To remedy our dichotomous perspective, we identify the anxiety-provoking situation and examine our corresponding fears and automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). From there, we analyze their inaccuracy and initiate rational responses

It is important to consider the holism and multiple perspectives of life’s events and replace the myopia of Filtering and the rigidity of Polarized Thinking with the kaleidoscope of viewpoints, interpretations, and possibilities.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Controlled or Controlling: Who’s in Charge?

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

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Cognitive Distortion #3: Control Fallacies

Our anxieties manifest in how we think about ourselves and how we think others think about us. We struggle with our fears of criticism and ridicule. The majority of us also live with depression, which can lead to multiple cognitive distortions including Filtering, Polarized Thinking, Overgeneralization, and Personalization. This chapter focuses on our tendency to engage in Control Fallacies due to our SAD-induced feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. 

A fallacy is a belief based on unreliable evidence and unsound arguments. As we discussed earlier, we cognitively distort to reinforce or justify our self-beliefs and validate our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions – how we think and behave.

A Control Fallacy is the conviction that (1) something or someone has power and control over things that happen to us or (2) we hold that type of power over others. We either believe events in our lives are beyond our control, or we assume responsibility for everything.

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When we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as weak and powerless, blaming outside forces for our adversities. We accuse our gender, race, sexuality, weight, income, and education rather than assume responsibility for our actions. A health scare becomes an act of god, the philanderer blames his wife for leaving him, and our failing grade is because our instructor has a personal grudge. 

Conversely, the fallacy of internal control is when we believe we have power and influence over other people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We blame ourselves for their mishaps and misfortunes. It is our fault our friend turns to drugs because we weren’t supportive. Our supervisor suffers a heart attack because we continually miss deadlines.

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We believe external forces control us because we feel powerless over what happens to us. Our sense of hopelessness tells us any effort towards remedy is futile. “They think I’m incompetent.” “She finds me unattractive.” “I don’t belong here.” We subsequently feel guilty for our inadequacy, and shame for our weakness. We wallow in self-pity, convinced that attempts at happiness are pointless. 

Our tendency to unjustifiably blame ourselves for our social anxiety disorder leads to internal control fallacies. Had we moderated our adolescent behavior, we claim, we could have prevented the onset. This leads us to believe we have control over other things we bear no responsibility for. “It’s my fault she’s unhappy.” “He drinks because I ignored him.” The belief we have let everyone down wreaks havoc on our emotional well-being and our sense of competence. 

These control fallacies inform us we are not assigning blame in the appropriate ways. We need to stop taking responsibility for problems we do not create and assume responsibility for our actions. That is only logical. Unfortunately, SAD subsists on our irrational thoughts and behaviors.  A fundamental component of recovery is learning how to identify our cognitive distortions and devise rational responses. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.

The Facileness of Blaming 

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information.” WeVoice (Madrid)     

Cognitive Distortion #2: Blaming

We cognitively distort Blaming when we wrongly assign responsibility for things and happenings. Social anxiety disorder thrives by making us feel helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. The burden of responsibility for our negative self-image can be overwhelming and compels us to hold someone or something accountable.

Since we have determined that SAD onset is a consequence of childhood disturbance, we recognize that attributing blame for our symptoms makes no sense. The Fallacy of Fairness, however, alerts us to the perceived unjustness of SAD, and our Emotional Reasoning compels us to assign blame. Something or someone provokes our fears and anxieties; blaming SAD for everything does not relieve the anguish of our negative self-beliefs. When we see ourselves as victims, we need to blame someone or something for our victimization. 

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One alternative is external blaming – holding others accountable for things that are our responsibility. Blaming someone or something for our personal choices and decisions seems illogical, but remember, SAD sustains itself on our irrationality. Besides, if we feel helpless, how can we hold ourselves accountable? If we believe we do not have the power to overcome our challenges, does it not make sense to blame someone else?

internal blaming is assuming personal responsibility for the problems of other people and things that go wrong which do not involve us. We view everything as our fault and think we are responsible for everyone. If our roommate is unhappy, it must be something we did. Internal or self-blaming can be expressed as power or weakness (Control Fallacies). When we blame ourselves for our symptoms, we feed into our perceptions of incompetence and ineptitude. Believing we have power and influence over other people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can be seen as grandiosity. Both correspond to our low self-esteem and sense of inferiority.

There is a difference between internal blaming and taking responsibility. Holding ourselves accountable for our actions is the mature and ethical approach to emotional well-being and social responsibility. Internal blaming is when we take responsibility for things that we are not accountable for. 

Until we devise rational responses to our fears and social avoidance, we tend to assign blame for our negative thoughts and behaviors. The ability to look at our actions through the prism of intellectual awareness is a necessary component of the transformative act and indispensable to recovery. Rational response allows the flow of positive thought and behavior necessary for recovery, eliminating the need to blame. Until we master recovery, we will continue to search for avenues to unburden ourselves of responsibility. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction 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 scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to reinvigorate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.