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Self-Esteem Automatic Thought Distortions

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nicole roy

on 5 February 2015

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Transcript of Self-Esteem Automatic Thought Distortions

Healthy Thinking
Automatic Thoughts & Distortions
Event occurs thoughts
We're all capable of thinking reasonably about upsetting events, however our "AT's" can take over and they can be "distorted" or negative. They can happen so quickly that it can be hard to recognize them. Yet, these ATs can profoundly affect our moods and our sense of worth.
We assume the worst without testing the evidence.
Assuming self talk could look like this:
"I know I won't enjoy myself"
"I know I'll do a lousy job even though I'm prepared"
More reasonable self talk could be:
"I might or might not enjoy myself but I'm willing to try it out and see what happens"
Shoulds - Musts - Oughts
Shoulds, musts, oughts are demands we make of ourselves
-"I should be a perfect worker" / "I must not make mistakes" / "I should have known better"
We think that we motivate ourselves however, we usually end up feeling worse
-We could practice replacing our shoulds - musts - oughts with "woulds" or "coulds" ("It would be nice if I did that - "I wonder how I could do that" or "I want to do that").
The Fairy Tale Fantasy
We are demanding the ideal from life. It's a special type of "should"
"That's not fair" or "Why did that have to happen?" often means "The world shouldn't be the way it is"
In reality, bad and unfair things happen to good people - sometimes randomly, sometimes because of our own imperfections.
A "would" or a "could" is a wise substitute for a "should" - "It would be nice if things were ideal, but they're not. Too bad. Now, I wonder what I could do to improve things"
Blaming is the opposite of personalizing - personalizing puts all the responsibility on ourselves but when we are blaming we are putting it all on something other than ourselves - "He makes me so mad" - "She's ruined my life".
This tend to make us think of ourselves as helpless and powerless. We must acknowledge outside influences but to also take responsibility for your own welfare
"Yes, his behavior was unfair but I don't have to turn bitter - I am better than that!"
This is when we decide that negative experiences completely describes our lives. "I always ruin everything" - "No one likes me" - "Everyone hates me" - Such global statements are unkind, depressing, and usually inaccurate.
Try using more precise language! "Some of my skills are not yet well developed" - "I'm not as tactful in some situations".
Be a healthy optimist: expect to find small ways to improve situations and notice what's going well.
All or Nothing Thinking
You are holding yourself to the impossible standard of perfection. When you fall short of this standard, you conclude that you are a total failure as a person.
"If I'm not the best, I 'm a flop", "If I'm not performing perfectly, I'm a failure",
This is unreasonable because such a black and white extreme rarely exists. A poor performance never makes a person worthless!
You are giving yourself a label or name as though a single word can describe you as a person completely.
"I'm such a loser" - "I'm stupid" - "I'm dumb" - to say I'm stupid implies that you are always stupid, in every way, all the time!
Some people may behave stupidly at times however can also behave quite intelligently at other times. Humans are too complex for such simple labels! -
Try to confine labels to behaviors: "That was a silly thing to do" or ask yourself "Am I always stupid? maybe sometimes but certainly not always!"
Dwelling on the Negative
You focus on the negative aspect of the situation while ignoring the positives - soon the entire situation becomes negative.
"How can I feel good about the day when i was criticized" - "How can I enjoy my life when my children have difficulties" "How can I feel good about myself when I make mistakes"
Try to re-examine your options instead! "Would I enjoy things more (and feel better about myself) if I chose a different focus?" - "What would I think on a good day?" - "What pleasing things could I still find to enjoy?"
Unfavorable Comparisons
Suppose you had an unsual magnifying glass that magnified your faults or the strengths of others & shrunk your strengths & the mistakes of others. In comparison to others, you would seem inadequate or inferior.
IE: "I'm only a housewife and a mother" (minimizing your strengths)- "Lori is a bright lawyer" (magnifying others' strengths) - your friend replies: "But you're an excellent homemaker, you are great with your kids" - Jan's a workaholic" - you respond: "yes, but (minimizing another's faults and your accomplishments) look at the cases she's won! (magnifying another's strengths).
Challenge yourself! : "Why must I compare? Why can't I just appreciate that each person is unique and have different strengths and weaknesses?"
Rejecting the Positive
Dwelling on the negative overlooks positive aspects

We are negating positives so our self esteem remains low.
- Ie. Someone compliments your work, you reply: "Oh, it was really nothing, Anyone could do that".
You discount the fact that you've worked long and hard. No wonder accomplishments aren't fun!
Practice!! - Reply "Thanks" - and tell yourself: "I do deserve special credit for doing this difficult task". You would most likely give a loved one or friend credit when it's due - Why not do yourself the same favor!
You believe that something is a catastrophe! You tell yourself is is so horrible and aweful "I can't stand it" - we are convincing ourselves that we are unable to cope with life. Although many things are unpleasant and difficult we can really stand anything short of being steamrolled to death!
Ask yourself this:
"What are the odds of this happening?"
"If it does happen, how likely is it to do me in?"
Seeing yourself as more involved in negative events than you really are - IE a student drops out of college and the mother concludes "It's all my fault" - Our ego becomes so involved that each event becomes a test of worth .... try these 2 things:
Distinguish influences from causes - sometimes we can influence other's decisions but the final decision is theirs, not ours.
Realistically look for other influences outside of ourselves "What's wrong with me?" "Why can't I do this?" to "This is a difficult task - The need I help isn't here"

Making Feelings Facts
Taking one's feelings as proof of the way things really are:
"I feel like such a loser. I must be hopeless"
"I feel ashamed and bad. I must be bad."
"I feel inadequate. I must be inadequate"
"I feel worthless. I must be worthless"
You can change this at ANY TIME!!!
There are 13 Automatic Thoughts & "distortions"
Is this thought a fact, or just a thought?
What am I reacting to? What meaning am I giving this situation?
Is there another way of looking at it?
What would someone else make of it? It's often helpful to think about a particular person who you respect, and imagine what they would think about that thought, what meaning they would give it, and how they would react to it.
What advice would I give someone else (with this thought in this situation)?
Is this one of those Unhelpful Thinking Habits?
Is my reaction in proportion to the actual event?
How important is this really? How important will it be in a year's time?
How am I reacting?
What if I tried to see this situation as an outside observer. How would that look? Would things be likely to have a different meaning?
What evidence is there that this thought is true?
What evidence is there that this thought isn't true (partly or totally)?
What would be a more balanced way of looking at it?
What is the bigger picture?
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