Thursday, March 18, 2010

More thinking errors...

When I began knitting I had to let go of my perfectionism, my set of rules about how my knitting and my artwork in general should and shouldn't be. I often hear people in my classes say stuff like, "I'm so stupid, I can't beleive I couldn't get that before" or "I have so many projects and no way to finish them all in time, so I just gave up" or "I could never do that! I'm just not creative" Have you ever said something like that? Be honest. This brings me to my latest social Faux Pas.

Tell me if this has happened to you...

I made a comment in casual conversation, and someone who was not a part of it says, "Wait a minute! What?" and I gave a brief answer (because it really wasn't the point of the conversation and it's kind of an interruption to the flow). That someone returned my answer with a "Why....." and when I responded to that with another brief (although incomplete) answer so so that I could continue my conversation, the other person continued to ask "why" this and "why" that. Before I knew it I was frustrated, they were frustrated and all because.... because "why?"

Sometimes with our kids the same thing happens. They naturally inquire about everything, and we as parents, begin our parenting adventures wanting to tell them reasonable answers to everything. This is likely due to the fact, that at some point in our lives we ourselves asked "why" and could not understand "why" we did not get satisfactory answers. But as we continue on to the parenting we sometimes progress from "Well, its because........" to "Because I said so"

C'mon now, I'm betting we all have done that at least once. I think that is a parent thing. And even though we may not litterally all be parents, we have behaved parent like to someone, somewhere, at some time.

There are several possible combinations of thinking errors here in this particular situation. In my particular event this week, I took a negative feeling which resulted from an event last week, I applied it to a situation this week and reacted. OK folks, train wreck! I said something, he said something, I said something else, he said something else, and the next thing I knew, he's telling me its alright (even though I can see that its not) and I'm in tears. And you probably know what happens next right? One of two things, either people are saying to themselves, "Run Away! Run Away!" or "Great here come the waterworks" My response to assuming others are thinking those things? More tears.

"Why am I crying over spilled milk" Was it hormones? Maybe. Was it the time change? Maybe. Why was it so bad? What was the worst thing that could happen? Unfortunately I was not thinking this through during the event, I was thinking of it after work, at home while working on a pattern. Yes there is how it relates to my knitting. I found my knitting enjoyment thwarted by my inability to let it go.

Then I had an epiphany? How did I get from "Oh, I spilled some milk" to "OMG! The sky is falling!!!" (notice the excessive use of exclamation marks in my second thought.) I'm sure you all know that these were not the literal thoughts but just some common thoughts which express the extreme transition. How did I do that? What evidence was there to indicate that spilled milk would lead to the sky falling? Absolutely none. There was no earthquake, there were no other cataclismic events, it's not 2012 or the apacolypes. It's just spilled milk.

The tears went away, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, my pride was no longer hurt. I had worked my way through thinking error number #6: Catastrophising. I feel liberated, I feel like the next time a situation arises where tears have been present in the past, that there will be no tears.

In looking at this more closely, I realized that I actually suffered from a few thinking errors, one right after another.

1. The person I was dealing with may have been (#5): Mindreading by assuming my motivation was something other than what it actually was.

But I know one thing for sure, once we clarified each of our motivations and why we were misunderstanding each other I still ended up in tears because

A. I went from "spilled milk" to "sky falling". (#6 Catastrophising)
B. From there, I went imediately to (#5: mindreading) "Great now everyone else is thinking...
C. (#9 Labeling) "....I'm a cry baby", more tears. Then
D.(#1: Personalizing) "I always say the wrong thing or put my foot in my mouth so I must be inadequate in one way or another", of course more tears....

I think now you can see the trainwreck ahead and may have even been guilty of this same type of destructive thought processes.

Perhaps someone will read this and reflect on their own work or life. Perhaps not. Perhaps to some I'm being preachy. But more than anything else, I feel a significant personal triumph in my life and my growing into a better person, and just the simple act of putting it into the ether helps me realize that someone, somewhere, at some time, might just benefit from my growth.