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Overcoming the Amygdala Part 24


How distorted is your thinking?

Perhaps you are unwittingly assisting your own anxieties by engaging in only partly conscious patterns of thought that lead you down the garden path to more and more worrying. These questions may help you to fathom your own levels of Cognitive Distortion. This is not a scientific assessment, but it might give you some idea and open your eyes to things occurring in your mind that you had previously considered ‘natural’. By totalling up the points at the end, you might get a clearer picture of how clearly you are seeing reality:

1. Do you regularly tell yourself that the very worst is happening or is going to happen?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

2. Do you tend to overestimate difficulty or danger in any given situation?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

3. Do you drastically underestimate your ability to cope with situations?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

4. Are you inclined to leap to extremes of ‘black’ or ‘white’ when viewing a situation rather than seeing it as a continuum of possibilities?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

5. Do you tend to believe that future experiences will be similar or identical to past experiences of the same general sort?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

6. When examining a set of circumstances, do you tend to ignore things which deny your beliefs while seeing only those things which help you justify or maintain your belief system?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

7. Do you think something must be true simply because it ‘feels’ true?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

8. Are you inclined to load credibility and meaning onto senseless or random thoughts?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

9. Do you tend to misinterpret bodily sensations as being exaggerated, life-threatening or dangerous?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

10. Do you feel that worrying means that you won’t be caught off-guard by something unexpected?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

11. Do you think that constant worrying might ward off some dreaded situation?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

12. Do you focus on the possible ways that a situation might come to an end, because the state of uncertainty is unbearable?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

13. Do you tend to guess or assume what others are thinking, having perhaps rehearsed conversations with them in your head, while neglecting to check whether your impressions are correct?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

14. Do you tend to hold to a rigid perfectionism and a narrow set of values?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

15. Do you tend to minimise positive feedback or perspective automatically, while negative outlooks are maintained?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

16. Do you hold with a negative view of the self, the world and the future?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

17. Do you mistakenly assume responsibility for causing an event, simply because your thought about it preceded the occurrence?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

18. Do you tend to affirm the existence of improbable things — something which is hypothetically true quickly makes the jump into something that ‘must’ be true?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

19. Do you tend to take unrelated events and connect them, creating the feeling that there is a meaningful relationship between the two?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

20. Do you believe your thoughts to be literally true when perhaps they are not, because ideas arise convincingly inside your head using convincing inner language?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

21. Are you highly motivated to secure explanations, so as to remove uncertainty?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

22. Do you tend to believe something simply because it matches up with how you feel?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

23. Do you believe that thoughts can influence the actual world?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

24. Would you rather have false alarms than miss anything menacing?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

25. Do you tend to make random, fleeting thoughts more meaningful or threatening than they actually are and come to believe that your concerns are entirely realistic?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

26. Do your transient thoughts make you concerned that you might actually do the things you occasionally think about randomly?

Hardly ever 0

Sometimes 5

Often 10

Add up your points.

If you scored less than 80, you are probably a pretty clear thinker and see the world more or less as it actually is in terms of worry, though you still have moments when your thinking is not completely rational.

Between 80 and 160: your thinking is distorted enough to affect how you are surviving on a day-to-day basis. To regain rationality, you’ll need to examine your Cognitive Distortion in some detail. (We’ll do this in future articles.)

Over 160: your ordinary thinking is aligned with the amygdalic alarm system — even when you try to ‘switch off the alarms’, your conscious mind is assisting in switching them back on. A full breakdown of your thought patterns will be needed for you to tackle this.

Stay tuned for more about all this in the near future.

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