Sorting it Out: Reality, Non-Reality

12 06 2011

According to my therapist, I am supposed to catch myself every time I have a negative dampening thought. Because I am an obsessive, I took the words “cognitive therapy” from his mouth and turned them into a research project. (It’s not that I haven’t looked into cognitive therapy before and completely dismissed it. But I guess I am at a point in my life where I feel the need to reconsider it.) So far, I have come across the concepts of perception, thoughts, automatic thoughts, reality, and the big one: reacting to our thoughts instead of to reality? Wow!

It is quite a strange thing to actually realize that reality and my thoughts may not be the same thing. Not only that, but they may not be aligned. Wait a minute, they may not even be on the same plane!

Another interesting idea I came across was in an article detailing the thought process of obsessives, to whom I proudly belong. It said, more or less, that while non-obsessives may have many of the same thoughts/fears, they dismiss lots of these thoughts as irrational, brain misfiring or malfunctioning and they move on. As for obsessives (myself), they hold on to every thought, give it utmost weight and significance, analyze and interpret it. Hence, obsessions. They are unable to see the line between imaginary, absurd and real. Invariably, they end up with a wonderful, complex combination of depression, anxiety and compulsions.

So for the past couple of days, I have been “watching” my thoughts, wondering which one is a misfire absurd thought and which one is a relevant real thought (worth obsessing over). (Yes, addressing  the obsessing comes at a more advanced stage, that is, if I get there.) “Wait! This one is not based on reality. That is a negative automatic thought. What proof have you got of that? Is that mental filtering? Whose voice is that? Whose voice are you listening to? Is there another possible explanation for this? What is another way of looking at this????”

Results: I am completely confused. I am now unable to trust any of my thoughts, which is probably a good thing. Most of them need to be questioned anyway, which takes me to Socratic questioning. Why not? Since I enjoy questions so much, why not use them on my own clever mind? And that is where I am now: tons of questions, not one good answer.

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