“Catch it” teaches you how to chance cognitive distortions into truth statements
For this skill, there are three steps:
Catch It: Identify the specific negative thought or message
Answer the following questions
- What effect does this negative message have on me and where do I experience this message the strongest?
- What feelings do I have when I hear that message inside my head?
- What behaviors follow those feelings or may be a reaction to the message?
- Where might the message have originated from?
- Is there a specific event or life experience tied to the message?
Challenge It: Temporarily stop or interrupt the negative message by identifying a very strong or startling statement and speaking it to yourself Examples: “stop it!” “that’s a lie!” “be quiet!”
Answer these questions:
- Is the negative message an exaggeration or a global judgement?
- What is a more realistic statement related to this situation?
Change It: Identify a truthful, realistic or positive message that you could replace the negative message with
To say that someone recovering from an eating disorder has cognitive distortions is an understatement; those false mental statements take over your life. Throughout my recovery my mind was telling me, “Don’t eat. Don’t take your supplements. If you do you’ll get fat. Everyone’s telling you you need to gain weight but you look perfect.” Those thoughts made it soooooo unbelievably hard to consent to my doctors’ wishes. Especially when I was home alone under no supervision. Yes, I slipped and stumbled, but seeing the hurt in my parents eyes when I was losing weight again gave me the strength to talk back to my distortions and realize that they were wrong.
Those thoughts especially came out when I’d go out to restaurants. They would tell me that what I wanted to eat was irrelevant. Over time, the thoughts made me actually think that what I truly wanted to eat was a bed of dry lettuce as a meal with some sort of fruit, usually an apple because they’re filling and low-calorie. It was ridiculous. Over time, watching my friends order what they wanted and eat however much made them hungry really helped me. I used to think that I had to eat everything on my plate, because that’s what I did when I was starving myself. I had to load up on what I’d allow myself because there was almost no telling when I’d be permitted to eat again.
It’s often that someone’s mind will tell them one thing when another is actually the truth. I believe that it’s a fairly normal thing and it happens to me all the time. Usually, these thoughts come into my mind when something goes wrong. My mind starts going through all the reasons about why the incident was my fault. Take, for example, this weekend. Javier and I were driving to Asheville, NC for a friend’s wedding. Stopping in Bristol, VA on the way to pick up a wedding card, the car would not start to continue on our way. Naturally, I panicked. After ten minutes of trying, I called AAA. The person that was sent came and tried to jump my battery to no avail. Past that, he was not qualified to do anything, he was simply a tow truck driver, not a mechanic. I had no clue what to do. I called my mom to let her know and was getting frustrated with all the questions she was asking me.
The driver made a call and found out that with my AAA plan, I had 100 miles of towing; Asheville was 106. We arrived at the Red Roof Inn via tow truck. On Monday morning I called the dealership that was fixing my car and asked if it had been fixed. The person on the phone, after much confusion, explained that the problem was my broken key. I have a key with unlock/lock/alarm buttons on it and the key portion had completely broken off from the rest. Because of that, the button portion wasn’t sending hte electrical current to my car telling it to start. I was so mad. I was mad at myself for not trying to hold the two halves together. I was mad at myself that because of my lack of thought I spent nearly $80 on taxis the whole weekend. I was mad at myself for being rude to Javier and my mom about my stress.
Needless to say, I’m still upset about it, but I got over it. Beating myself up about it now is useless. It isn’t going to allow me to go back in time to redo the events or be nicer and more relaxed about it. Also, the fact that the tow truck and taxis gave us nice adventures that we will always remember.