A principle of cognitive psychology is like Shantideva's "in all the three worlds, there is nothing to fear but the mind"
Another is not to lust for results. That is, work hard, but don't expect that hard work "should" give you results, as this sets you up for disappointment and frustration. In other words, control what you can control (i.e. your own thoughts and actions) and don't worry about what you cannot control (other people, the results you get, external conditions)
Every patient thinks theirs is the special, one-in-a-million, unique problem that won't be solved, is incurable.
- All-or-nothing thinking. Leads to perfectionism and fear of failure.
- Overgeneralization. Leads to fear of rejection.
- Selective attention to the bad
- Disqualifying good things. Such as people who care for you, successes. They don't count for some reason
- Jumping to conclusions
- Mind reading
- Future-telling. Foreknowledge that things will turn out badly
- Catastrophizing bad things / playing down good things
- Taking emotions as evidence. "Because I feel guilt, I must be guilty".
- MUSTurbation. This is a kind of lost performative because who is judging it? Don't expect reality to conform to your whims. Why should it? Also leads to procrastination because tasks are assessed as being a drag.
- Labelling. (This is attaching nominalizations)
- Center-of-the-universe illusion. Taking bad events personally.
In a depressed mood, you will assess your depressing thoughts as being accurate
Depression and self-dislike go together
Bust self-critical thoughts, identify which of the 10 distortions is at work, and challenge it.
More elaborately: specify situation, rate emotions 1-100, bust self-critical thoughts, identify cognitive distortion, challenge it, rate emotions again.
It is "crucial" to write these reframes rather than just thinking them. 15 minutes a day for a month or two
Using a counting device, count the number of negative thoughts you notice during a day. Three weeks is enough time for vigilance to develop to control them. Use this alongside the written counterarguments.
So much for cognition, on to behavior.
Depression leads to apathy, which leads to lack of achievement, which leads to self-hate and more depression
If you do things that disprove the bad thoughts, you scramble the depression cycle
People lose hope and feel that the way they feel now is the way it always must be
People feel they have no power to change their bad state
People magnify a task to make it seem more complex or bigger than it is until it scares them away
People disqualify the satisfaction of doing a task
People create identities of themselves as ineffective
People create perfectionistic standards that put them off doing things
People fear failure, and the blow to their self-esteem that comes with failure
People get too attached to outcomes, and so they don't value trying their best if it doesn't work
People fear the pressure of raised standards that come with success
People fear that they'll be judged for the inevitable mistakes that come with effort
People try to force themselves into action, and this creates unpleasant strain
People compare reality to an ideal in their head and get frustrated when obstacles arise
To overcome these tendencies, make a list of tasks to do through the day
Be sure to balance fun and productivity. If you're blue, add more fun stuff
Predict how satisying (1-100) and how hard (1-100) you expect something to be. Then do it, rate these retrospectively and see if you were right.
Ask yourself, "When I think about that undone task, what thoughts come to mind?" Dispell the answers. Sometimes they won't go away first time and there will be a bit of a spell-counterspell battle for a while.
Celebrate small victories. This creates joyful effort and dispels discouragement-about-self
Just as you challege verbal thoughts with rebuttals, challenge visual thoughts with the swish.
To motivate yourself
List all the advantages of achieving this
Lying in bed, mentally travel to your happy place
Imagine being in your happy place having this accomplishment under your belt
Undo limiting beliefs by testing them. Think you can't dance? Try it for 30 minutes for 30 days!
Do the stoic thing of exploring the worst consequences of a scary task. Write them down and dispel them.
When someone gives you vague, general insults, use questions to steer them towards more specfic, therefore more constructive, criticism. This also makes the critic feel listened to, which often is what they want most. Alternatively, agree with criticism, but interpret it as constructive criticism about behavior, not about ego-judging. Once the critic cools off, you can have a constructive, reational conversation about their grievances.
With angry, critical people, calmly agree that there is a grain of truth in their criticisms. Emphasize common ground.
Dealing with MUSTurbation
- Don't be a person who gets annoyed easily. Anger often comes from labelling others. We see them as essentially existing and essentially bad. Mind-reading is also a common cause of anger. Angry thoughts moralize about other people's behavior. You can dispute these thoughts by questioning the source of the moral standards. "Who says it's unfair? Who's to say what he shouldn't do?"
- Anger can be used when it is directed against actually stopping deliberate evil.
- Before the provoking situation arises, lay out the reasons you are committed to reacting without anger.
- Catch and dispell the angry thoughts that go thru your head.
- By dealing with grievances in a way that allows everyone to be free, relationships are allowed to flourish in fun. Contrariwise, when you get angry and try to coerce people, regardless of the immediate outcome the relationship is always damaged.
- Change angry visual thoughts to make them silly
- Anger means you feel one of your rules has been violated. Change the rule or realize rationally that the person you're angry at doesn't know it. Change "should" of "must" rules into "it would be nice if"
- Dispell "should" in general. It hasn't a leg to stand on.
- When you need to correct somebody, lure them in by first complimenting what they did right. Then firmly and calmly make your request.
- Enter the other person's reality-tunnel. Realize that they have their own motivations to seek pleasure.
- Think of the most upsetting things that could happen to you, such as going to jail, your family all dying, getting a terminal illness, severe public humiliation, and rehearse dealing with these with rational thoughts and a cool mind.
- Guilt is the cognition that A) you have violated your own standards B) ego-judging about it
- Judging yourself as worthless leads to depression. Fearing judgment of others leads to shame. Fearing consequences leads to anxiety.
- If you're feeling guilty, you're usually blowing the mistake out of proportion
- Guilt nearly always comes from moralizing "should" statements
- Often guilt feels not specific but we justify it by reasoning from emotion to fact: "I feel guilt, so I must've done something wrong"
- Guilty thoughts can lead to self-punishing behaviors, which lead to more guilt
- A better way to deal with mistakes is A) regret B) resolve
Four philosophies leading to self-esteem
- Replace MUSTurbation with, "I get to..."
- Find your rules and list the advantages and disadvantages of holding them
- When trying to end a bad habit, we often beat ourselves with "should", and tell the story that we are out of control if we deviate. The guilty, nervous feelings this induces are not conducive to self-control.
- Try counting the number of "should" statements you make in a day. Try dispelling every one you have for a given period of each day.
- Rattle off all the most abusive self-criticisms you can think of and dispell them
- Ask "Why should I?" or "Who says I should?"
- People whine and complain, they are feeling inadequate. Justify their shortcomings and problems by agreeing with them and they'll usually be placated. It also helps to big them up a bit.
- If someone has trouble viewing their own problems rationally, tell a story about someone else having those problems. What would they say to that person?
- To prevent recurrance, you must be completely au fait with the art of rational dispelling.
- If you are happy, but still assume that your happiness is because of external causes, then when bad events happen depression will rear up again.
- To identify these assumptions, chunk up from automatic thoughts. Dispel these higher-level fears. This allows you to really follow the trail of bad thoughts, to use the Socratic method to draw out your deepest worries. The basic question is, "Suppose that automatic thought were true, what would that mean to me?"
- The craving for approval (and its brother, the weakness for flattery) is based on overgeneralization that if one person dispproves/approves of you, everyone does. It also fails to recognize that only the mind, and not the eight worldly concerns, can make us feel good.
- We can only be hurt by disapproval or inflated by flattery if we buy into the idea of ego-judging, that there is an inherently existing individual Self and it has an inherently existing worth. The belief is "approval=worth"
- Ask "What are the benefits of making the judgements of others equivalent to my worth? What are the detrimental effects?"
- Men often fall prey to basing self-esteem on achievement, women to basing it on approval
- Generate aspiration to change a belief by understanding its cost:benefit ratio
- Basing worth on achievement is motivating, but it A) is unstable and B) leads to obsession. If you can't work coz you're sick or something, you're in trouble.
- Like a drug, we'll need to constantly up the dose of accomplishment to get the same effect.
- There are high-achievers who are kinda dicks, aren't there? And there are underachievers who are lovely, aren't there? If their worth isn't tied to their accomplishment, why should mine be?
- How to you know if someone is "accomplished" or not? Only by arbitrary game-rules.
- Write out your reasons for putting yourself down. Then dispell them by taking them back to the sensorium; ask for the evidence. There is not evidene for ego-judging because it depends on the realm of essences.
- Do things for fun and out of lust, not for self-esteem
- There is no such thing as "worth". It is a nominalization.
- All life is sacred. (In other words, Buddha-nature is the only valid basis for self-esteem.
- Worthiness or worthlessness are illusions created by the mind
- Cultivate self-love
Chasing ideals is a sure path to misery because nothing is ideal in samsara.
To stop perfexionism:
- Develop aspiration to do so by listing advantages and disadvantages of perfexionism
- Take the advantages from that list and dispell their irrationality
- Set a goal that is lower than your normal goal, maybe 60% of it
- Rate how perfectly you did an activity and how enjoyable it was.
- Notice how everything in samsara can be improved. Look around - everything
- When you get fearful coz you're being imperfect, continue being imperfect and groove on the fear
- Focus on the process, the doing, not on the result. As long as you do you're best, you win. That's the rule of the game you set up.
- Setting deadlines and time-slots makes overly perfexionistic behavior impossible
- Go on record publicly by writing an essay or blog arguing that it's wrong to be perfexionistic and better to learn from mistakes. Read the essay daily for a fortnight.
- Use a click-counter to count the number of things you get right in a day (to reorient your focus). Try it for a fortnight.
- Instead of hiding your shortcomings, frankly discuss them with some other people
- Think of memories of times that were happy, and notice how they were also imperfect
- You have a desire to be excellent. The best way to be excellent is to have realistic standards so you can play the game well. Perfexionism makes you more flawed, more of a failure. You can write ten good articles for the effort of one perfect one, so which will get you further?
- To err is human. You wanna be human, dontcha? It's therefore good to make mistakes from time to time, every day
- Write down some blunder and what you learned from it