199. Mindset traps to be aware of (cognitive distortions that might be holding you back in motherhood and life)

How we talk to ourselves matters. I was asked to share an episode on positive self-talk and want to open up with a review of the common mindset traps (cognitive distortions) we can have. By noticing these cognitive distortions we can better understand how we might be holding ourselves back and the impact our thinking can have on our lives and relationships. I will share the common cognitive distortions, what they are, and some examples that we might have in motherhood and life. 



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Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend and counselor from simple on purpose.ca Welcome to simple on purpose podcast. And welcome to February. What was January like for you? I’m a hockey mom in Canada. So like most hockey moms and probably most sport moms,I spent most of the month Driving driving to different towns sitting in rinks. And always telling my kids pack more snacks pack more snacks, because I don’t want to buy food on the road.

And also in January, I’ve started to track my habits. Again, it’s something that I have done over the years. And I shared this in this simple Saturday’s email, if you get that, um, I was just sharing on this that I’m not necessarily adding a new habits this year. Well, that’s not true. I did add one habit to the habit tracker, and that was to get outside and not so much to make sure I’m getting outside every day, but to just kind of tracking, see what is happening already. Kind of like get the baseline info of what’s going on. So I’ve been tracking my habits using an app. And I hope to share an update on that in the future as I go through the months and just see how that goes.

Today’s episode is based on a request that I had. And I had a request I asked in the Facebook group for Hey, what do you want to hear this year on the podcast or this month or whatever. And someone mentioned positive self talk during the day, which got a lot of people saying yes, I would love to hear on that. So positive self talk. What I mean when I say that is how you talk to yourself during the day, you know, you talk to yourself a certain way like you can be mean to yourself you can be nice to yourself is the things you say to yourself. And those things really matter. The stories you have about you matter.

The way you view yourself matters, what you tell yourself about you matters, the things we think are true about us or not true about us, we perpetuate them. We feel them. We carry these stories. I talked about this a bit more in Episode 76 What you think matters. And if you have a lot of negative story, you’re gonna feel that in your body, you’re going to feel negative, you’ll be operating from places like shame and frustration and scarcity. Versus if you have a more positive story or even neutral, hey, let’s start neutral. We don’t have to feel like we’re the best. But neutral is good, too. You’re gonna feel more capable. Hopefully you’re going to feel more empowered.

It’s kind of like watering your garden with vinegar versus water. I don’t know if that’s a good example. Because I’m not a gardener. I don’t know what vinegar would do. I’m assuming it’s not going to be helpful. But it’s just hard to grow beautiful things. If you’re not taking care and watering and letting the sun shine on it is a great topic, I think because most clients that I work with, have some negative self talk in in their day, we all do. Don’t let my garden analogy make you feel defeated. We all have some vinegar, we all have some weeds.

With this request to talk about positive self talk. I took it to Facebook, and I asked for scenarios like where exactly do you need this? What’s going on for you. And I had so many great scenarios. I’m going to follow up in kind of a q&a style q&a q&a q&a style episode shortly on that. But one statement kind of stopped me in my tracks and made me realize I had to do an episode on this topic. The statement was this. I’ve realized how much I fall into the all or nothing mindset trap. I’ve realized I can address my thought patterns and use positive self talk more effectively, when there are certain mindsets I’m having, such as the all or nothing mindset. So I’d love to learn how to identify these types of mindset and ways to use self talk to speak to myself when I’m finding myself thinking these things.

And she mentioned the all or nothing thought trap. Such a great example all or nothing is that black and white thinking. It says I’m either 100% or I’m 0% I’m either a success or I’m a failure. I’ve yelled at my kids today, so I’m a bad mom. It’s no in between. I must eat perfectly. There’s no room for moderation. If I make a mistake at work. I’m a horrible employee. If I didn’t finish my to do list today, I failed at life. There’s all or nothing, no middle ground, no matter at moderation, no days off, no B pluses, there’s no middle ground. Good, Bad two categories. And I was kind of laughing as I was thinking about all or nothing thinking because I remember my husband saying to me, when we were first married. It’s either good, or it’s doom and gloom with you like there’s no in between. There’s no space for conflict or tension or us just not being what in my mind was ideal. And man, I’ll tell you marriage has been a journey. I’ll link some posts on that in the show notes. That all or nothing thinking is really invasive. You can probably notice already some areas you might have it in and I’m going to actually unpack all or nothing thinking as it pertains to our relationship with Time in the virtual summit called let’s get more time, I’m just one of many speakers in the summit. Registration is open now that it’s February. And that is happening the weekend of February 22. So I’ll link that in the show notes. It’s a free Summit. If you’re interested in that.

When you slow it down, and you think about some all or nothing mindsets you have, you can probably see how that thing you’re thinking isn’t helpful, and probably not true. If you miss a workout this week, should you just quit the whole thing? No, we should accommodate for missing a day sometimes. If you get stressed and yell at your kids, are you a bad mom? Is the whole day just a bad day? No, sometimes moms yell. And sometimes parts of our day are hard and some parts are great. There’s an episode that you might enjoy on that episode 160. To think the best of me, I talk a bit about marriage, but also about allowing that hard and awesome in our lives, and also how we talk to our kids about it. So I’ll put that in the show notes.

Those are examples of all or nothing thinking we can’t see the entire story, we can’t see what else could be true. And this is what a cognitive distortion does. It’s kind of like looking through a dirty windshield, we can kind of see where we’re going enough enough to make it. But we’re missing some things. Not everything is totally clear. A cognitive distortion is a term for patterns in our thinking that are not fully accurate and cause us some distress. So keep this in mind. We’re not talking about hope and trust and abundance and empowerment. We’re talking about the negative bias our brain has to spot the danger. When you spot the danger, you keep yourself safe. But that negativity bias leaves us with cognitive distortions which cause us some distress in some way.

If you’ve ever been to a therapist or counselor that uses cognitive behavioral therapy, you might have heard cognitive distortions, you might have even heard the all or nothing thinking cognitive distortions, a term from Aaron Beck. They’re also called mental blocks, thinking errors, cognitive biases, distorted thinking negative thoughts. In the past, I really like to call them thought traps. And in this episode, I want to run through the main ones, I’ll cover about eight of them all, there’s more. And I’m going to put them in a PDF. So you can just scroll through them after you don’t have to write anything down or try to remember everything we’re talking about. I want you to keep in mind how a cognitive distortion that I mentioned might show up for you.

But even more importantly, keep in mind how you act when you have that cognitive distortion because cognitive distortions have an impact on our lives. They change how we view ourselves, how we view others, how we see the world, how we see our choices and our opportunities, how we just generally feel about things. They impact how much hope we have, how much resiliency how much safety we feel in our relationships in our lives. And we act from these beliefs we treat others based on these beliefs. We isolate or retreat, we doubt we limit our options, we fight we defend, we get frustrated, we get helpless.

So we’ve covered all or nothing thinking that seeing situations as entirely good or entirely bad. The next one is overgeneralization, which is drawing a big conclusion without enough evidence or just a few situations and applying it to all situations. So we’re going to use words like always and never a common one common example is if you’re in a social social, that if you’re in a social situation, and you are uncomfortable, and you ramble a few times, you might use that as evidence to draw the conclusion broadly, I am always so awkward. Or maybe you have it about others. If your kid is reluctant about something a couple of times it might become my kid never wants to do this, my kid never eats. Well, my kids such a picky eater. I have an episode on that about typecasting our kids to labeling, giving others labels giving ourselves labels,

catastrophizing, that’s another one expecting the worst possible outcomes, maybe even exaggerating the significance of a seemingly negative event. I think we do this one subconsciously, because we all have this kind of subconscious internal checklist on how things need to be. And when that list feels threatened, our mind goes right to worst case scenario. If you’ve been a mother, it could look like my kid isn’t growing at the rate they should. They might be delayed their whole lives, they might not have the social skills, they might be an outcast and so on. I have a kid who catastrophize as everything we call it, the spiral and if one thing felt off, or I told them I was upset about one thing, Oh man, it’s like everything’s gone bad and you’re so disappointed. Like, everything is so big. Maybe your brain goes to my boss said they want to meet with me. They must have horrible things to say I might be fired. They might be so disappointed in me that’s catastrophizing.

Personalization is when we take responsibilities for events that are due beyond our control, but we take responsibility we take blame for them somehow. So maybe it’s like, my friend is upset I’m it must be something I did. Or the garbage guy, he knocked over my cans when he unloaded them, he must not like me, or I must have put them out the wrong way. How about his mom’s, let’s say, your kid is out of the park, and they fall and another parent is there, and they’re helping your kid and you feel guilty, you find a reason to blame yourself for something that was really out of your control. When I thought of this morning was, let’s say you make plans for the weekend, and you’re excited about these plans. But then someone invites you last minute to do something B already planned, and you feel guilty, like you’ve done something wrong.

The next one to talk about is jumping to conclusions, which is assuming things without actually knowing. There’s two ways that we can do this one way is mind reading, where we are assuming we know what the other person’s thinking about us. And it’s often negative. And we often don’t have concrete evidence or proof that they think that it can be common in social settings, where we have any level of insecurity about something, whether we think other parents are judging us for what we put in our kids lunch, or other women are thinking we dress ridiculous or not good enough or too good or whatever. For me, it’s like I hate going to the gym because of this because I think everyone is looking at me and seeing how incompetent and uncomfortable I am. Or we think someone’s disappointed in us or doesn’t like us without actually knowing for a fact. This is a really great one to get awareness on how you act. How do you avoid How do you overcompensate in those situations.

The other way we jumped to conclusions is fortune telling, assuming we know what’s going to happen, but remember, it’s not positive. So I would actually call this Miss Fortune Telling maybe someone new invited you over for coffee and you just think it’s gonna be awkward, I’m gonna feel uncomfortable. Or maybe you think I could have that tough conversation with someone on this like conflict we’re having, but you predict how they’re going to react. There’s a lot of anxiety here, alarm bells are going off often telling you just avoid it altogether.

Emotional reasoning is when you believe that because you feel a certain way, it must be true. This is kind of a fascinating one. It’s so subtle, it looks like I feel guilty for taking time to myself. So I must be selfish. Or I’m feeling stressed right now. So I must be a bad mom. And I just can’t handle all the stress. I’m not like one of those calm patient moms. Or maybe you have something coming up that you feel nervous about, I feel nervous about that presentation. I must be a bad presenter. Or I’m feeling uncomfortable in the social setting right now. So I must just be really socially awkward as a person. Emotional reasoning is, it’s really interesting because it takes a lot of emotional intelligence to really spot what you’re feeling. And then separate yourself from those feelings.

The next one I want to talk about is should statements. These are when we set standards rules shoulds for ourselves and others. And when these standards are not met, we feel guilt or frustration. And who doesn’t have this one, right? Like moms live with so many shirts women do I know I talk about this often. We think we need to be all the things and do all the things and look good doing it and be happy doing.

So get to know your shoulds. What do you think you should be doing? What do you think others around you should be doing because we have checklists for others to how our spouses should act, how our kids should, how our family should our bosses should have how the cashier at the grocery store should act unless she Sandra, cause Sandra’s splendid, but we have these shoulds these like checklists for ourselves and other people. I’m going to link a couple episodes on that in the show notes that might be helpful to dig into. If you feel like you are shoulding on yourself, I think that’s a Brene Brown saying I’m not too sure don’t should on yourself.

And finally discounting the positive. We have two strategies here that helps us do this. One is minimizing the positive and the other one is maximizing the negative. If you struggle to receive a compliment or praise or positive feedback, you might be doing this it’s like when a friend says Oh you look so nice today. Or someone tells you did a good job or dinner was so nice think is or your home still nice. And you just laugh and tell them all the reasons they’re wrong. Women are definitely conditioned to do this. Be modest downplay don’t break. When we’re in this cognitive distortion, we might say things like, it was just luck. They’re just being nice. They feel sorry for me, whatever. They say that to anyone. Or help out like anyone could have done that that test was so easy or anyone would do that. or how about Yeah, maybe I did that thing or this thing happened. But here’s everything else I do wrong. Here’s my list of how you’re actually wrong. And then I’m actually not that great. We discount ourselves, our achievements, our strengths, we downplay what’s positive, and just give this laundry list of things that are actually wrong. And we might not even do this verbally to others, we might even just do it internally. In our own minds. We would never say Oh, I’m so proud of myself, I got some movement in today. Instead, we’re gonna say, one workout all week, like, that’s nothing, you’re still so out of shape. Like I said, women were really conditioned to downplay our positives and focus on our negatives, mom’s especially. And the result of this is feeling a lot of discouragement with ourselves.

Those are some of the major cognitive distortions, I hope you can see why those are important to know, a huge part of making change in our self talk, which is changing our hearts and then involves in to change our lives is understanding the story we have the self talk we have, and the story we approach our life with. So we need to pay attention to those cognitive distortions, those thoughts, those stories, those assumptions. And Michael singer says, Be the observer, observe the thoughts that come into your mind. After all, you are not your thoughts, you’re the one experiencing them.

As you pay attention to the thoughts coming up, you can notice now you have some language, now you have some cognitive distortions to turn to. And you can notice, oh, there we go, I’m using should statements, I’m using all or nothing thinking. And then you can decide what to try next.

Noticing is critical, you cannot change things you are not aware of. So the more we notice how we have this filter on our thoughts, and therefore how our lives our relationships, our self identity is being impacted. The more we can notice it, the more we can name it, the more we can shift it.

And as always, if you feel stuck with this, get some personal support, you can learn new ways of considering these things. You can wash your windshield, so to speak. Of course, you know, I’m an online coach and counselor. But what matters most is finding someone you feel connected with someone you can be open and vulnerable with that is very, very important.

I will follow up this topic with the q&a on the examples that were given in the Facebook group on areas of your day that you want more positive self talk. So if this episode has been helpful for you, if you’ve noticed anything, I would love for you to share it in the Facebook group, the simple on purpose community. And as always, the shownotes are gonna have a lot of related links. I’ll put the PDF download in it of different cognitive distortions, as well as that link to the let’s get more time Summit. So I encourage you always to stop by the show notes. If you cannot find them in your podcast player, go to simple on purpose.ca. Click Listen, you’ll find all of the episodes there with transcripts as well and all of the fun links and also a way to sign up for the simple Saturday’s email. It’s fun email, guys. It is fun, I think. All right friends, have a great week.



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