FA 019 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Feral  Attraction
Episode 019 - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cognitive Distortions 05/18

Intro 00:00:40

  • A recent study looks into why people sleep poorly during their first night in a new place

    • Newsweek (4/21, Firger) reports that research suggests that “when people sleep in an unfamiliar place, one hemisphere of the brain stays more awake as a way to keep watch for potential danger.” The findings were published in Current Biology.

    • CNBC (4/21, Ferris) reports that “in two experiments,” researchers “found that the brains of sleeping people with first night effect were not showing the ‘slow wave activity’ brains normally show during deep sleep,” as “one hemisphere of the brain appeared to still be awake.” The investigators “also ran an experiment that showed how that slightly more vigilant part of the brain is able to induce wakefulness much faster when it registers an ‘unusual signal’ from the environment.”


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 00:06:20

  • Rationale

    • We can’t control the facts of the world, or what happens to us from external factors

    • Narrative is something we can control

      • We interpret reality as we experience it

      • You must maintain an internal locus of control

    • Becoming better at objectively observing one’s own thoughts, emotions, motivations, and behaviors unlocks the potential for improving one’s own mental health

  • Disclaimer

    • We’re not mental health professionals

    • Fortunately, many of the principles of CBT can be used on one’s own

      • For a more formal treatment, seek help from a qualified mental health professional

    • When we refer to CBT this week, we are referring to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, not cock and ball torture. If you would like for us to talk about cock and ball torture, let us know and we’ll discuss it in kink month!

Cognitive Distortions 00:11:00

  • Learn to step out of yourself and objectively examine your responses to various stimuli

    • Be your own confidant; imagine yourself advising a dear friend (who just happens to be you)

  • Question thoughts / opinions

    • Thoughts are not facts!

      • We sometimes cannot control having them, but we can control how long we hold onto them and how much weight they carry

    • Common cognitive distortions

      • Magnifying the negative / disqualifying the positive

        • Exaggerating negatives and understating positives

          • “Life is just one massive failure; my life always sucks”

          • “That test must have been too easy.”

          • “Oh my god I suck at taking tests and I am a failure!”

      • Negative labeling

        • Rather than describing a specific behavior, you assign a label to yourself or someone else that puts them in absolute terms

          • He’s selfish

          • I’m a bad person

        • Avoid negative self-talk

          • Be charitable to yourself

          • When you find yourself saying something negative, invert the thought and look for examples to back up that assessment

            • “I’m a bad person” > “I’m a good person, because I’m loyal to my mate, good to my friends, and willing to help when I can”

      • Mind-reading

        • Assuming the intentions and opinions of others (usually in a negative way)

          • “My presentation must be boring because the guy in the front row just yawned”

        • Generally better to assume good faith / good intentions unless you have very good reason not to (real evidence)

      • Blaming

        • Assuming you or someone else is solely responsible for a complex situation

          • Self-Blame

          • Scapegoating

        • Not taking responsibility for your own emotional state, making you powerless to change it

      • Overgeneralization

        • Taking isolated situations and using them to make broad (usually negative) generalizations

        • All or nothing thinking

          • Thinking in absolute terms such as “always,” “every,” or “never”

          • Metriko calls this “Stinking Thinking” or, as he says it, “stinkin’ thinkin’”.

          • Just because you fail one test doesn’t mean you’ll fail them all!

            • Using one data point and extrapolating a conclusion from that is akin to post hoc, ergo propter hoc (If this, then that).

      • Jumping to conclusions

        • Assuming something negative when there is little actual evidence to support it

          • You didn’t come home on time last night, so you were fucking someone else

          • Sitcom Logic employs this school of thought far too often

      • Fortune telling / Catastrophizing

        • Predicting, then focusing on the worst possible outcome

          • “I won’t get that job”

          • “I’m going to fail the exam”

          • “This date isn’t going to go well”

        • Beware self-fulfilling prophecies

          • “I’m not going to ask her out because no one would want to go out with me”

      • Emotional reasoning

        • Making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality

      • Inability to disconfirm

        • Failing to take into account any evidence that contradicts your negative thinking

    • If two or more interpretations are possible, go with the most positive or most useful

      • Assume good faith in others unless you have a very good reason not to

  • Question emotions

    • Treat emotions as a resource, not something that controls you

      • Emotions are like the check engine light in your car

        • They may suggest something is really wrong, or they just mean you hit a bump in the road

          • Anger/Resentment: Maybe I am being wronged

          • Fear: Maybe I am in danger

          • Jealousy: Maybe my relationship/specialness to my partner(s) is at risk

          • Envy: Maybe I am being deprived of something I should have

          • Guilt: Maybe I made a mistake / did something wrong

          • Remorse: Maybe I owe someone an apology

          • Anxiety: Maybe I am too far out of my comfort zone

          • Just because it feels good does not make it right

          • Just because it feels bad does not make it wrong

      • Consider emotions, question whether they are valid, then act

        • Act by changing your thoughts

        • Act by changing situation / behavior

      • Avoid dwelling

        • Keep your mind in the present most of the time

        • If you must change your time reference, make sure it is for a constructive reason

          • Future

            • Constructive: Planning

            • Not constructive: Anxiety / fortune-telling / catastrophizing

          • Past

            • Constructive: Learning

            • Not constructive: dwelling on feelings of guilt, sadness, shame

  • Question motivations

    • Lust vs love

    • Selfishness vs altruism

      • Dick Crusader Syndrome: I’m going to save you with my penis!

    • Need vs want

    • Urgent vs non-urgent

    • Perspective shifts

      • I have to _____ (negative)

      • I choose to _____ because ______.

      • I get to _____.

Behaviors 1:38:20

  • Important skill: Be able to choose your behaviors

    • It should be YOU who chooses your behaviors, not your emotions

  • Create space between impulse and action for reasoning and conscious choice

    • Note the urge you’re feeling

    • Pause

    • Make a choice while considering alternatives

  • Don’t wait for emotion to trigger action

    • Action can trigger emotion

      • Be productive to feel motivated

      • Smile/laugh to feel happy

      • Study to become curious

Accountability 01:50:35

  • Accountability is superior to shame

    • Shame

      • “I am a bad person” - labeling

        • Your BEHAVIOR may be bad, but you are not

        • You right now are capable of change

          • Give yourself a clean slate, and look forward

            • What did I do

            • What can I change

            • How do I want the situation to play out next time

    • Accountability

      • Objectively observe your behavior and its consequences

      • Take responsibility for your part in things

      • Decrease behaviors that produce feelings of shame, minimization/downplaying, denial, or blame (if you have examined those feelings and think they are warranted)

      • Change your behavior to be consistent with values, beliefs, and how you want to be

        • Move constantly towards your ideal self (which can change)

Conflict 02:03:30

  • Shift from justification / convincing to understanding / curiosity

    • “Tell me more about how that makes you feel”

    • “What is that like to you?”

    • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

Resources 02:05:30

Question(s) 02:10:00

  • How do I let my mate of 6 years know that I am polyamorous?  Me and my girlfriend have been together for six years and we have only grown stronger together.  I have always felt I was a polyamorous person,  but I have always been really good at suppressing my feelings and emotions. Lately I have been dropping hints in a teasing and joking manner that I might be interested in other people to test the waters… So far she has not reacted negatively to my jokes but I don't know how I would begin to sit down and talk to her about my polyamorous feelings for real…

    • Received via e-mail (name withheld)

Closer 02:16:35

  • Next week’s topic: Social Anxiety

  • iTunes Rate / Review

Metriko Oni

Metriko Oni is a former government environmental disaster mitigations expert with a focus on outreach, education, and policy writing. He now works with computers. He has been active in the fandom since 2013 and has been an advocate for transparent lines of communication. His interests include philosophy, media, futurism, and speculative fiction.