Thursday, February 28, 2013

Do you Sabotage your Happiness ?

The ultimate aim of all of us is happiness.All our activities are directed towards this goal.But are they really?Unknowingly we adopt modes of behavior which thwart this pursuit & it becomes difficult to be happy if we persist with those very modes of behaving.The root cause of mal-adaptive behavior lies in cognitive distortion which gives rise to stress,anxiety & sorrow.We usually take our feelings for granted--that they are there due to our life circumstances and it cannot be helped.But this is not true.Our feelings are the product of our thoughts,& if our thoughts are skewed then unwanted & unhealthy feelings will take charge of us.Following are some examples of such cognitive mistakes:--

Personalization
This entails ascribing any untoward incident or reaction to one's own self,even if the cause or the target lie elsewhere.
Consider this---Neeta's hubby Anil, has been moody & uncommunicative since the last few days.She concludes that he has a grouse against her.Her mind goes like this"Now what did i do wrong?","Why is he so churlish?","How dare he humiliate me by not responding to my remarks?I will show him!" etc. etc.You get my point?She has at once concluded that this change in his behavior is connected with her.The poor fellow might be worrying about a health issue or struggling with a problem at work, but Neeta is fuming & fretting without any basis.Not only that,she has also poisoned the atmosphere of her home by being equally surly in return. Anil,already consumed by a serious conflict, is further chagrined, & now they both have another problem on their hands.

Instead of jumping to conclusions when confronted by unpleasantness,it is far more productive to ponder if it is really connected to you?Maybe you are reading too much into it.

As often happens-A shouts at B & B goes off at a tangent.He forgets that A is human after all & maybe he was perturbed because of a crisis which made him lose control; and it had nothing to do personally with him.B upsets his equilibrium & a relationship without genuine cause.He could easily have shrugged it off & gone whistling.

Dichotomous Thinking
This refers to the habit of thinking black & white,or vacillating between two extremes.Such people are highly emotional & rash.They do not perceive reality as it is.When required to make a choice they will opt for either all or nothing.They cannot think of a solution which lies in between.This spells disaster.It rules out a sound,pragmatic course of action.It also disrupts their relationships because they will first unjustifiably place a person on a pedestal &  then break all ties when disillusioned.Such an attitude causes emotional upheavals,leading to disastrous consequences.For example if someone fails to win the affections of a particular individual,or cannot achieve a cherished goal, s/he would rather commit suicide than look for another option.

Selective Abstraction.
This indicates the propensity to focus on only one aspect of a situation neglecting other relevant details.Mostly it is the negative aspect which is focused upon.Those who have low confidence or self esteem are usually in the habit of behaving thus.They ruminate over one shortcoming & forget other positive traits of their personality.Naturally this results in a melancholic temperament.
Selective abstraction is responsible for a person misjudging  situations and relationships.One negative factor is given all importance while other positive elements are totally ignored.No wonder unhappiness & pessimism set in.

Magnification & Minimization
A person habituated to this sort of distortion does not see reality as it exists.He tends to view his lapses & drawbacks as much larger than they really are;while he ignores his strengths & achievements.Carrying on in a similar vein,he will exaggerate the negative results of his actions & not recognize the positive fallout.This is bound to slash at his confidence & self esteem.When this happens,he becomes despondent & life loses it's charm.Even if such a person is extolled for a well executed job by his boss;the moment a couple of mistakes are pointed out he concludes that he is no good.If he is given to catastrophization,he will chew his nails out,imagining this to be the end of his career.


Prophetization
Sometimes we imagine a tragic scenario on the basis of a small event,we are convinced that something awful is going to happen to us.

Overgeneralization
Sometimes one bitter experience goads us to extend our fear or dislike of it to all such experiences for all times to come.This reminds me of Priya whose favorite stress-buster used to be going to a cinema hall with her gang & watching movies.Every week she used to eagerly wait for this outing--till a cinema hall caught fire,killing many.Ever since that day she has not ventured near one ,even though she yearns for those jaunts.
This is a clear case of overgeneralization.We often indulge in this to a lesser extent when one unfortunate encounter leaves us hating & avoiding the whole class or community.

We cannot control the frustration arising from vexing life events,but surely a lot can be done if the same stems from cognitive distortions.If left unchecked,these habits can culminate in mental diseases like Depression,Borderline Personality Disorder ,Bipolar Disorder etc. etc.In order to get rid of these distortions we can do the following:---

*First & foremost,it is imperative to note when & how you are being swayed by a cognitive distortion.Look back upon your past & then decide which deviation do you mostly indulge in,so that you can be alert to it's incursion.

*When you find yourself giving in to irrational thinking make a reality check.Are you hundred percent sure that things are as you have judged them to be?

*Is there any evidence to support your opinion or your fears?

*Would a neutral observer agree with you?

*Think of a well adjusted person whom you hold in high esteem--would s/he react to the situation as you are doing?

*Even if your apprehensions are well founded on facts;is it a given outcome in all cases or is it the exception?What chances are there of you being adversely affected?

Taxing your brain with such strictures can help you to get rid of erroneous thinking & replace it with sound judgement.This will cut down your frustrations & augment your peace of mind.



Image from google search.

57 comments :

  1. interesting post, aunty! most of us do end up sabotaging our chances to be happy! especially by compering ourselves to others

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    1. After a long time Ash.Yes comparisons are odious.Thanks for dropping by!

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  2. Lovely write up Indu. You have compiled root causes of the main problem in a very articulate way . If one goes through your post and understands many problems will be solved .

    Thanks for sharing ...

    Travel India

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    1. Vishal thanks for this nice comment,it is very cheering.

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  3. Very inspiring read. Years back, on of my professors used to shout at the class; 'Adam'[ all depends on me.] Yes, happiness is a state of mind-set. Internal factors rather than the external ones are respnosible for happiness. Nice write.

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    1. Arumugam very nice of you to say this,it boosts my morale,thanks!

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  4. Being judgemental without rationale is cause of many a problems

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  5. have come to this post thrice today Indu ji and everytime I wrote a comment the lights went off ---now to think I thought the MSEB was trying to make life difficult for me was making myself unnecessarily unhappy ---so I made myself happy thinking that MSEB was helping me to write a better comment later LOL----and all that positive thinking only because this post of yours ------

    on a serious note Thanks so much Induji for this post ---like it happens we know a lot of things but keep on forgetting them and posts like this remind us not to forget and keep a positive attitude in life

    thanksa lot
    warm regards
    rajni

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    1. Haha,these everyday problems do irritate the best of us.

      Rajni it is always a delight to read your posts and comments--keep rocking!!!!

      Love n Hugs to you!

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  6. Informative...you have really described various traits of human behavior...and the solution is equally just and fully frontal...!!!

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  7. So much of wisdom Indu!
    Great post!

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    1. Thank you Indrani,is this your first visit?

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  8. Another great one to help us all with a subject we badly need!
    Thanks a whole lot ma'am!!

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    1. Amit je i can always rely upon you to encourage me on---thank you ever so much!

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  9. Hello Indu,
    This is my first visit here to this very intersting blogsite.
    Shall post comments after reading a few more posts.
    Take care

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  10. Chowla jee you are most welcome at jeeteraho,i am so happy that you found it interesting.
    Thanks a lot!

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  11. As usual a very interesting and useful read, Indu! The initial part reminded me of a post by me - 'Of Communication' - which mentions this attitude to ascribing motives for other people's words and actions in a manner that hurts you.

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    1. Suresh thanks for appreciating my efforts.I have missed many of your old posts,shall look it up--this earth day is so short,i wish we had longer days-like Venus perhaps!!

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  12. Very informative post, Ma'am. We often make ourselves the centre of the problem, when epicentre lies somewhere else. You have actually tackled this problem in detail and given some very practical suggestions as well. It is often advised not to be too judgemental about situations and relationships. But it is easier said than done. It need lot of practice to be in state of equanimity.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yes it happens to all of us-when we are more emotional than rational.It certainly needs practice.
      Thank you Meenakshi for your observations.
      Love n Hugs.

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  13. great one Indu .... we ourselves are responsible for our happiness ... its good to read a post which inspires us to be happy ...thank you Indu :)

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  14. Thanks TTT....NICE TO SEE YOU HERE!

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  15. All of it makes a lot of sense Indu. The secret to being happy is within ourselves and lies with NO ONE else!

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    1. Jaishree thank you for taking time to read n comment.

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  16. Lovely post with lovely examples Indu! Beautifully written :)

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  17. Sri Valli,thanks for appreciating!

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  18. I have nominated you for the liebster :) do check out this link
    http://odizzey.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/liebster-liebster/

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  19. Thanks Odyzz, it is very nice of you.

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  20. As you mentioned, Happiness is just our state of mind. Given the same situation, at times we might feel happy , at times we might not be that happy, since it all depends on our frame of mind and the mood we are in. It needs a lot of introspection as to what makes us feel happy and what makes us feel gloomy, to be able to truly understand our own self.

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  21. Ashwini you are bang on-we need to understand our thoughts in order to control our moods.

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  22. Will read it again when I feel low! And lovely blog design, Induji!

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    1. Hi!,
      Giribala thanks for dropping by appreciating my blog--this is especially pleasing because i am rather tech-challenged !

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  23. What a beautiful article, Indu.
    One must learn to value happiness. Happiness is within us and does not require any extra effort. We need not rely on others - we are the masters of your own destinies. We should strive to be happy without blaming others - learn to laugh - learn to behave in a civil and positive matter.
    And be responsible for yourself is the dictum that I like to follow!!! Awesome post. Thank you.

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    1. Panchali thanks for a very sweet comment.Your praise means a lot to me!
      You have elucidated the topic,every word makes great sense.

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  24. Bookmarking this for future reference! What an amazing post this is! Inspiring to the core :) Thank you for penning this down.

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  25. Akanksha your comment too,has inspired me extremely !
    Love you !!!!!!!

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  26. I had b'marked this post and read it in instalments to gather the full import of this most educative, informative and useful exposition. The post is in my favourite links saved

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    1. Geetashree welcome to jeeteraho & thanks a ton for your most generous approbation.
      We all need reminders from time to time to introduce an element of rationale to our emotions.

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  27. Of course the happiness is inside us.. We shield ourselves with the griefs of the external world and search for some reasons to be happy..I rarely see adults laughing as heartily as children and they have their self-made reasons for that ..Informative post ...Not just to read but to apply ..

    I penned down a poem ..
    http://odizzey.wordpress.com/2013/03/03/truth-is-stranger-than-fiction-bat-wow-blogadda

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    1. Very true,as we grow old we lose the spontaneity of emotions.

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  28. This truly has some fantastic pointers. I need to come back to it when I feel short on patience or low.

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  29. Rachna i am happy that you liked the post.

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  30. We'd like to think we're well adjusted human beings, don't we? Your post is a reality check - helps verify the truth of our beliefs! My rueful diagnosis - on second thoughts, never mind (yaar) :) Good post, Indu.

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  31. Hi KayEm,
    All that i have read on your blog tells me you ARE well adjusted.

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  33. Welcome to jeeteraho,thanks for dropping by.

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  34. I have to say relieved hearing this ...

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  35. I feel relieved reading the post..a beautiful write up it is ..

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    1. Hi simple girl,a warm welcome to you.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and appreciate.

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    1. So sweet of you Anita-i will check it shortly.Thanks :) !

      Delete

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