Sometimes Your Brain Lies to You…

I would describe today as a good day. For the second day in a row, I have felt content. I like this feeling. Interestingly, when I am content, it allows me to process my emotions more objectively. I am able to see where I am falling into “thinking traps” aka cognitive distortions. Primarily one known as mind reading. I do this a lot, and I have fallen victim to this particular one for a long time.

In today’s example, I messaged the lovely lady I go on about all the time, asking for a selfie. Because, well, if you had a close personal relationship with someone as attractive as her, you would too. However, I have this little problem when it comes to things like this where I don’t feel like I deserve something seemingly as simple as a selfie. This along with some other social situations in particular leave me hypersensitive and vulnerable when waiting for a response.

It is in situations like the ones referenced in the paragraph above that I find myself falling into the cognitive distortion of mind reading. “What if she doesn’t want to send me a selfie because she thinks I am unattractive?”, “I must have asked wrong and she must think I am a creep.”, “Only weirdos ask for selfies, why in the world would you ever think she would fall in love with a weirdo like you?”, and many more things that I would NEVER say to another human being other than myself.

And honestly, as I grow in my self-awareness, journey, I am learning the difference between a cognitive distortion and reality. Could the way I asked be perfectly fine and she just is busy at her literal job? Could it be that she is self-conscious herself at the moment and doesn’t feel like she could take a flattering picture right now? Could she have been working all day and just simply not have the energy to muster up a smile for the camera when she is just trying to survive until she can get some sleep?

There are an unfathomable number of potential reasons why she could be taking longer than thirty seconds to respond. Why am I letting my old unconscious unhealthy habits tell me that there is something wrong with me? Or tell me that someone who has done nothing but support me and love me has such a negative opinion of me? Which is obviously not true. Especially, with someone as forthright and honest as her.

This begs the question: “If I wasn’t self-aware, how would I be able to decipher the truth from the fiction that my unhealthy habits are telling me?”. A simple way to do this is to use what I call a filter. This filter consists of a simple question. “What is 100% verifiably true about this situation?”

Does this woman love me? Yes. Absolutely 100%. Her words don’t have to say it, her actions do all the talking for her. Does she think I am weird? My guess is probably not, or she wouldn’t be romantically interested in me. But I can’t 100% verify that if I am honest with myself, because my cognitive distortion is too strong there. Does she think I am attractive? Well, obviously. She wouldn’t say, “You are handsome,” if she didn’t think I was handsome.

Really, you have to take a step back from the situation and try to evaluate the truth about it. It won’t be easy, especially if you struggle with your mental health like I do. And you won’t always succeed. But you will find, in time, that you will begin to establish a baseline of truth that you can come to rely on. Like most worthwhile things in life, it takes time and persistence.



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