Been working through this book by David Burns. The stuff in bold are the things I really related to, with italics being my own notes.

Types of feelings (emotions)

  • Sadness, depression
  • Guilt, shame (spending too much time on work, not with friends, family)
  • Anger, irritation, annoyance, resentment
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety, worry, fear, nervousness, panic
  • Inferiority, inadequacy (being unexceptional, average, work ‘lacking spark’ [tutor’s words] etc etc etc)
  • Loneliness
  • Hopelessness, discouragement (wanting to fight being hopeless. But so exhausted trying to do that!)

Types of thoughts

  • All-or-nothing thinking (not on purpose, but seems to be the way that I’ve been pushing myself as much as I can [‘all’], but now taking a break [‘nothing’] – would like to find the middle ground!)(Generally I’m ok with this, I just have a hangup about my uni work at the moment)
  • Overgeneralisation
  • Mental Filter
  • Discounting the Positive
  • Jumping to conclusions (that others are getting pissed off with me, which is now stopping me from trying to get help from tutors. Though I’m fairly sure they are! I’d be pissed off with me if I were a tutor, and I’m pissed off with myself as it is. Need to find out what others think of me?)(Predicting what quality my work will be, what potential employers will think of me, my portfolio etc)
  • Magnification
  • Emotional reasoning (concerned that the more I worry, the more people will think of me as a worrier. Same with ability to meet deadlines. I really think I’m neither – a worrier or poor with deadlines – but the more I keep the worrying up, soon I will be both of those things!)
  • ‘Should’ statements 
  • Labelling (I’m dumb. At least I am in certain things)
  • Personalisation & blame (except that it is my fault)

Am I doing something constructive about the problem, or am I simply brooding and avoiding it?

  • ‘Sometimes a negative feeling becomes a way of life. You may feel sorry for yourself instead of doing something about the problem that’s bothering you’.
  •  I probably am brooding, but trying to do something about the problem. But trying to deal with the problem is becoming a problem in itself (keep getting upset that I don’t seem to be solving my uni problems)

Are my thoughts and feelings realistic?

  • Healthy Negative Feelings – realistic, best to express feelings in order to confront problems and deal with them effectively
  • Negative Feelings – Distorted and unrealistic thoughts, better to change the thought, actual circumstances aren’t the (main) problem
  • My feelings feel realistic, but I can see that they’re not, and suffer from a lot of the above types of thoughts! But acknowledging it hasn’t helped. And I can’t change my beliefs as I do think they’re realistic! (need help going through my thoughts please)

Are my expectations for myself realistic?

  • You may have difficulty accepting your imperfections and your limitations. You may harague yourself whenever you fall short of a personal goal and tell yourself, ‘I shouldn’t have made that mistake’. Although all this self-abuse creates guilt and depression, there may be a hidden payoff. When we do, we try to learn from them and carry on again. But if you punish yourself and act as if your mistakes are unthinkable and unacceptable, it means you’re superior to the rest of us!
  • This seems to sum me up. I realise it and would like to be able to achieve the realistic, without an all-or-nothing approach. 
  • I’m not superior, I would just like to have my effort rewarded. What to do next? Put less effort in, in order to allow reward to be less? That’s not really a good thing!!!

Am I experiencing a loss of self-esteem

  • You will simply waste time and energy ruminating about how lousy and terrible you are. This will only incapacitate you and make the problem worse. In addition, this is very self-centered because you’re entirely caught up in yourself!
  • Genuine self-esteem is based on humility and an acceptance of your shortcomings.
  • Not wanting or trying to waste time and energy – my ‘shortcomings’ are fixable. (as I believe and others say of me – that I CAN DO it!) 
  • Though right now it is incapacitating me. Worried though it is me being self-centered, and I really don’t want to be like that. 
  • Although as I’m at university, the entire point of me being there is for ME to learn! 
  • ‘Acceptance of your shortcomings’ WHY?, when I really feel it is a temporary hitch. I AM supposedly a good creative person that is conscientious and produces good work within deadlines.

Bad Communication:

  • Not expressing your feelings openly
  • Not acknowledging how the other person is thinking
  • Truth: Insisting on being right
  • Blame: other person’s fault
  • Maryrdom: claim to be an innocent victim
  • Put-down: Imply that the other person is a loser
  • Hopelessness: you give up and not bother trying
  • Demandingness: Feeling of entitlment but refuse to ask for it in a direct, straightforward way. (I feel that I need to learn, tutors are there to teach, but I don’t seem to be asking the right questions, in the right way (but I’m not refusing to ask in the right way either!)
  • Denial: Insisting that your don’t feel angry or sad (Trying to pretend my only issue is an academic one = not helping myself to get the right help)
  • Passive aggression: saying nothing or storming out
  • Self-blame: instead of dealing with problem, act as if you’re a bad person
  • Helping: trying to solve someone’s problem without listening to their feelings
  • Sarcasm
  • Scapegoating: telling the other person is the one with the problem
  • Defensiveness: refusing to admit imperfection
  • Counterattack: responding to criticism with more criticism
  • Diversion: dealing with other problems rather with the one on hand.
  • Generally I realise I haven’t been listening to the tutors, purely I’ve just been trying to ask questions for myself. Maybe acknowledging their point of view on my issues will help me see what I should be doing/asking, and encourage them to want to help me.
There’s a lot more to this book!