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wundayatta's avatar

How do you know if your thinking is unrealistic in cases where there is great uncertainty?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) December 16th, 2010

I had asked a question about Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and the discussion there made me wonder this. It seems that one tenet is that you should evaluate your source of anxiety rationally, so you can show yourself you are worrying about something that won’t or cannot happen.

Like if you are worried that your boss asked you to meet with him or her, and you think they want to fire you. You tell yourself that you have had good reviews every time you’ve been reviewed, and there’s been no rumor that your department is going to be cut. However there have been cutbacks and the company is not doing well.

Another example, I think, of a situation with great anxiety comes from questions we see a lot. “How do I know if he likes me?” This can be asked before you’ve dated someone or in the early stages of the relationship. You might wonder whether if you use the “L” word will he or she dump you?

You might become used to talking to your new love three or four times a day, and then one day, he or she misses a couple of the normal times, and you start getting anxious that they no longer love you and are using silence to show you you are no longer interested.

How can you know if that is unrealistic thinking? The relationship is new and you hardly know anything about the person. What would you tell yourself in that situation to calm yourself down?

Do you have other situations where you have a hard time knowing rational arguments to calm yourself down? How do you work through those situations?

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22 Answers

sumitnxt's avatar

example .. if you are getting anxious…. how your lover will respond when you say… I L you…. then you can think… if my lover dumps me…. then initially i will feel pain… but since…....... there are techniques like NLP ( Neuro linguistic programming ) .. using which… it is possible to .. get rid of all the mental pain that anyone can possibly have…. within… 30 minutes… then .. I can take the chance….. I mean to say… learn NLP… you can get rid of pain forever…

zophu's avatar

The rational exercises aren’t done to actually figure things out so much as they’re done to just quell the anxiety. If they don’t work, something else should be tried. Rationally, there’s not much reason to do anything if you evaluate things enough. We should use rationality where it helps but delusion is always necessary. It just best if it’s placed well and kept fluid enough to be moved if the time comes for it to be replaced by rationality to some degree.

kess's avatar

All negative thinking is unrealistic thinking.

There should not be any good reason to expect a negative outcome to your situation and circumstances especially when those things were meant to better yourself and others.

Why should you then ponder over it?

If perchance you did overlook something, then you should conclude that all things are perfect as they stand in the present moment.
And your vision of that particular outcome is still valid and will be achieved finally, cause it at the moment it is merely suspended within time. also for a good purpose.

Coloma's avatar

The more comfortable one becomes in learning to live with uncertainty, yes, as @sumitnxt says, the easier it is to ‘risk’ because one has dropped the need to control an outcome and, if one is healthy enough, they know better than to take anything ‘personally’, ever!

And, on the rare occasions that person is digressing into a bit of ego induced anxiety that can extract themselves pretty damn quickly, recognize what’s going down, within, and ideally, laugh at themselves, shake their head and get on with it. haha

Life IS uncertainty, that’s a fact…so the only place to go from there is to show up as authentically as possible for your current level of development and realize that no-thing, situation, person, percieved ‘rejection’ can harm you, unless you allow it. ;-)

crazyivan's avatar

I think the biggest issue we have much of the time is that we fail to leave the past in the past and let the future stay in the future. Not to go too Zen on you, but lack of living in the moment seems to be the root of those issues.

Coloma's avatar

@crazyivan

Zen out…it’s the only way, and…spot on!

MrsDufresne's avatar

I do this much too often.
I believe it is a protection mechanism.
If I believe the outcome is the worst one, if it turns out, in reality to be horrible, it isn’t as surprising, and somehow I think I would be more prepared.
And if it is not a catastrophic outcome, then my “thankfullometer” is cranked up 200 percent.

Honestly, I am unable to tell that my thinking is unrealistic while I’m going through it. It is only in hindsight that I am able to determine if my negative thoughts were out of proportion.

G/Q

Summum's avatar

Wow do people really worry this way and put themselves through unnecessary anguish that didn’t have to be. In reading most of this it is strange that people really act this way and go through what they do. If you can open your mind to the Universe and just stay calm things of this nature don’t get in your mind until something actually takes place and then you can deal with it directly.

mammal's avatar

Tibetan proverb,

“If a problem has a solution there is no need to worry about it. If there is no answer for the problem, worry will do no good.”

sumitnxt's avatar

@Summum…. if you believe in what you say… then i don’t think you would be afraid to go to the edge of a cliff.

Summum's avatar

Not sure what a cliff has to do with being afraid?

sumitnxt's avatar

@ Summum…..ok… what are you afraid of ?

Summum's avatar

I’m afraid of spiders.

sumitnxt's avatar

are you afraid of spiders that cannot harm you physically ?

Summum's avatar

I just have a fear of spiders they look awful to me. Even the little ones. I can touch them and have sold the big ones out of a pet shop but I have a fear of them all.

sumitnxt's avatar

okie here is a 5 minute nlp excercise that can get rid of your fear of spiders – pretend in your mind that you can visualize a time in your past when you are confronting a spider and getting really afraid in the process. make a movie in the mind of this event from beggining to end . It is likely that in this movie you will be in first person and therefore not be able to see yourself but looking through your eyes.

Here’s what you do to get rid of the fear of spiders.

imagine watching this movie so that you can also see yourself in the event ( third person view ) and go through the event from beggining to end with normal speed.
when you reach the end . on the last scene make the movie black and white step into yourself in the movie ( i.e back in first person ) and rewind the movie from end to beggining in twice the normal speed. observing all the black and white images rewinding at twice the speed.

try it .. more than once if you want to….. after a while try thinking about spiders and see if you can feel the difference

Summum's avatar

Thanks @sumitnxt I appreciate you taking the time to explain that. I will give it a try when I have some time though my fear of spiders doesn’t merit much time to it because I am not really affected by that fear. Thanks though.

sumitnxt's avatar

@Summum .. thanks for reading

LuckyGuy's avatar

Do the leaders of the Department of Homeland security need to think this way?

“Someone might bring a weapon on a plane, but they probably won’t, but they have tried in the past, very little chance of it happening, but if it does it’s very bad, I’d better be ready just in case and hope I don’t ever find one.”

flutherother's avatar

@Summum Have you never heard Ned’s Atomic Dustbin by Spike Milligan. It contains these lines…...

Bluebottle:
You twitt, Ecclesavitch. Come wid me… farewell comrades. Nothing but death can stop Bottleski from the plans. Farewell!

FX:
[Door slams, door opens]

Bluebottle:
Here, dere’s a big spider out dere, Oh!

Eccles:
I ain’t frightened of big spiders! I’ll fix him.

FX:
[Door slams]

Grams:
[Great roaring of a lion aroused]

Grams:
[Terrible battle]

Eccles:
[Yelling for help]

FX:
[Thuds, bangs etc]

FX:
[Door slams]

Bluebottle:
‘Ere, where’s all your clothes?

Eccles:
Bottle, say after me, I must learn the difference between a lion and a spider.

Blondesjon's avatar

If your thinking is uncertain, it will be unrealistic when you need it.

Summum's avatar

Life is what it is and isn’t it wonderful we don’t all think the same. :)

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