We are half way through our list of cognitive distortions from Key Four: Feel Your Feelings, Challenge Your Thoughts in the 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder Workbook.
Personalising - a cognitive distortion whereby you entirely blame yourself, or someone else, for a situation that in reality involved many factors and was out of your control.
This week, Kristie shares a standout memory from her recovery where she experienced the destructive nature of this thought pattern, and a simple strategy we can all use to challenge it.
Was there a reason you skipped me?
A standout memory I have of this ‘thinking error’ is when I was in group therapy. It was a relaxed group of women in strong recovery, we would meet once a week for several hours and the focus was more on life and living than the minute details of eating disorder recovery.
The group opened with the person closest ‘Beth’ - the group facilitator - sharing how her week had unfolded. The person next to her followed and it continued in that pattern. After several people had shared, Beth called on 'Tammy', a participant on the other side of the room, to speak.
Immediately, the woman who had been next in line to share spoke up.
‘Was there a reason you skipped me?’
I understood in a heartbeat what had happened. If I had been the next ‘in line’ to go and Beth had called on someone else my brain would have had a fit with the following thoughts:
Beth paused, ‘Thank you for asking that question. I went to Tammy because her current situation is so relevant to what was just shared. I wanted to go there while the energy was hot.’
In that moment my brain had another fit. ‘It’s that easy? All I have to do is ask?’
I began to use asking all the time. The more I checked out my automatic reaction to people’s behaviour the more I learned that I was not the problem... my belief about me being a problem, was the problem.
I encourage you to lean into the magic of asking – you might just be surprised at the results!