mind over mood

Feelings and Defenses 5

This week, Imagine Hope is discussing how defenses can be used to mask or avoid feelings, especially the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, loneliness, shame guilt.  Now that we have learned some of the defenses and what feelings they can mask, how does this impact us in our lives? Not dealing with feelings can cause a host of issues, such as depression, anxiety, issues with reactivity or rage (an extreme form of unhealthy anger), and other issues.

Today we will cover some different resources that might be helpful to you if you often find your defenses covering up your feelings:

Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne

Anger:  Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way by Gary Chapman

Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw

Guilt is the Teacher, Love is the Lesson by Joan Borysenko

Loneliness:  Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John Cacioppo, PhD

We hope you find these resources helpful!  Did you see any defenses in yourself from this week's blog?

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.

Mind Over Mood- Where's the Evidence?

This is Part 3 of a series of our blog this week about Patty and Jenny. If you have not read the full story, please go back and read Teri’s and Tamara’s blogs from this week.  Today we’re going to discuss how to find the evidence of hot thoughts or automatic thoughts about events happen to us that cause strong negative feelings. In our vignette this week, we have Patty at the grocery store who feels hurt that she waved at her neighborhood friend Jenny at the store and her friend did not wave back.  Yesterday, Tamara described automatic thoughts that Patty may have had in that situation, like:

  •  “She must be mad at me for something”
  • “I must have offended her”
  • “It must have been something I said the other day"
  • “Maybe she didn’t see me"
  • “Maybe she was in a hurry and needed to get out of here quickly”
  •  “Maybe she just got done working out and didn’t want me to see her stinky and smelly”
  • “Maybe she thinks I’m mad at her for something and she’s avoiding me”
  • “Well, we do have lunch planned on Thursday together, so maybe this was a fluke

Part of step 2  is to choose the thought that is causing you the most distress called the hot thought.  In our situation, “she must be mad at me” is Patty’s hot thought.  Now that Patty is upset and thinks that Jenny has ignored her because she is mad, it’s time for Part 3: Where is the evidence for such a strong thought? At this point, we make two lists.  Patty needs to draw on her experience with Jenny to list details of evidence that supports or does not support her hot thought.  Let’s do that for Patty right now!

Evidence that supports Patty’s hot thought might be:

  • “Jenny is so sensitive and she was mad at me just the other week for not texting her right back.”
  • “She invited me to go work out and I told her no this morning.”
  • “I know Jenny saw me and there has to be some reason she just ignored my wave.”
  • “I think I saw her narrow her eyes and give me a dirty look too.”

Evidence that does not support Patty’s hot thought might be:

  • “Jenny is always quick to tell me so when she is mad and she has not said anything yet.”
  • “She invited me to have lunch on Thursday after I had to turn her down to go to the gym this morning.”
  • “She is looking pretty rushed and still in her gym clothes with her four children in tow.”
  • “Jenny has terrible eye sight and she was not even wearing her glasses.”
  • “Jenny tells me what a good friend I am and how much she values our friendship.”

It may be difficult when we are experiencing strong feelings to find evidence that does not support our automatic thoughts.  However, looking at evidence from both sides often reduces the intensity of the mood.  When Patty looks at her evidence that does not support the hot thought, she may feel better and remember that her friendship is also very important to Jenny so there is likely another explanation for Jenny’s behavior.  Notice your shift in mood when you focus on this part of the activity.

Hint: If you are having difficulty finding evidence that does not support your hot thought, try some of these suggestions:

  • Is this completely true all the time?
  • If someone I loved had this thought, what would I tell them?
  • When I am not feeling this way, do I think about this situation differently?
  • When I felt this way in the past, what did I think about that helped me feel better?
  • Is there evidence to support that my thoughts are not 100% true?

Please check back this week as Natalie and Joleen continue to show us how to create alternative thoughts and change our moods.  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Source: Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger & Christine Padesky

Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT

Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapy, family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield

Mind Over Mood - Identify Automatic Thoughts

This is Part 2 of a series of our blog this week. Today we're going to discuss how to identify automatic thoughts that arise when events happen to us. Note: we may notice how we FEEL (hurt, sad, upset, angry), versus what we're thinking at first, so here are a set of questions to ask yourself to get you on the track of thinking about automatic thoughts. After we ask these questions, we'll apply them to Patty, the woman Teri introduced us to yesterday.

  • What was going through my mind just before I started to feel this way?
  • What does this say about me if it is true?
  • What does this mean about me, my life, my future?
  • What am I afraid might happen?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if it is true?
  • What does this mean about how the other person(s) feel(s)/think(s) about me?
  • What does this mean about the other person(s) or people in general?
  • What images or memories do I have in this situation?

Let's remember the scenario with Patty:

Patty’s Story: Patty was shopping at the grocery store on a Saturday morning, when she saw her neighbor, Jenny, down the aisle. Patty waved at Jenny, but Jenny didn't wave back. Jenny turned her cart around and went to the check out line.

Patty's Possible Automatic Thoughts: (Remember these may not all be realistic, which is why they affect our mood!)

  • "She must be mad at me for something"
  • "I must have offended her"
  • "It must have been something I said the other day"
  • "Maybe she didn't see me"
  • "Maybe she was in a hurry and needed to get out of here quickly"
  • "Maybe she just got done working out and didn't want me to see her stinky and smelly"
  • "Maybe she thinks I'm mad at her for something and she's avoiding me"
  • "Well, we do have lunch planned on Thursday together, so maybe this was a fluke"

It may take you several times to ask yourself the above questions to figure out your automatic thoughts. Once you have your automatic thoughts written down, you can start to challenge them, and find evidence to accept or reject your thoughts. Tomorrow Alexa will show us how to find evidence to accept or reject our thoughts, which helps us with our moods and leads us to the 4th and 5th step in this process.

Source: Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger & Christine Padesky

Written by: Tamara Wilhelm MA, LMHC, LCAC

*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counseling  at Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.