Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How beliefs are so hard to change

The next few posts will be on thoughts from my therapy appointments. Ahh, C., my therapist, says interesting words which always prove to be food for thought.

I've talked about how one of my goals this year was working on trauma-related issues from the past. It's a cognitive behavioral approach which I do think can be effective at times. We've put aside working on this since there were a lot of other issues which felt more pertinent to me at the time.

Currently, I'm working on the continuance of challenging my belief system through a series of questions/answers, exercises in ways of thinking differently, as well as going through emotional feelings, etc, you know all the CBT stuff. We went over my last assignment which I admit I probably should have worked on more. As I was reading my list of beliefs, saying them aloud, and answering the module questions, I suddenly felt very frustrated. At this point, I just wanted to shut my notebook, throw my hands in the air, and say how this was all stupid. I told C. "you know I know all these beliefs are irrational."

Her reply was, "Okay, this might be true that you know these beliefs are irrational, but how much do you really try to change them?"

Okay, I guess she got me there. That keyword of change. I don't know how much I am trying to do that, honestly. Well, I am, but right now my emotions don't feel as intense, therefore, there is a lackluster approach to feel the need for necessary change. And as horrible as it sounds, sometimes, I feel like putting myself in a situation where that type of trauma occurred, just so I could truly feel those emotions again. However, my logical side kicks in knowing that could be harmful and lead to possible irreparable damage. (this reminds me quite a bit of the parallels ED)

So going back to beliefs and change. How much do we do this with eating disorders? Obviously, that is part of the emotional point of treatment and recovery. I run across so many eating disordered individuals who all know so many things rationally, but I think have such a difficulty in really feeling and changing their beliefs about themselves. Most of them could tell anyone else how whatever feeling, behavior, etc, was irrational, but however, when it is about them, the rules somehow change, they are different (myself included here) A friend of mine often tells me when I am spouting out my justifications for ED this or that, "Do you hear yourself?" It actually does give me pause to think. Still though, why do we have to be our own worst critic?

I guess I'm feeling slightly frustrated with myself for having difficulty with this and not trying as hard as I could be, knowing that if I don't work on it now, it will only continue to bite me in the ass time and time again. :sigh:


Kim said...

Changing beliefs seems to be the hardest part of recovery (and life). Nobody likes it. It's not just you, or just "us." It's everyone. We all have comforting ways of thinking and behaving. Changing behaviors seems to be gradually easier for me, but changing my thoughts seems really hard. I've started to assume that my thoughts may not change, but my behaviors can, and that's good. And, once I accept that, then my thoughts start to change. It's really weird. Don't be so hard on yourself. I really think the more you let go of the burden of HAVING to do this work, you will free yourself up to think differently.

Eating Alone said...

Loved the post, and I followed the links. It let's me know you a little bit better. And feel a bit better than I was about myself. I hate it when I can't do the homework right. H alway's tell's me that it's not about right or wrong but I know there is.

The old post about the secret got to me big time. I can still remember seeing H the first time, I had caried my secret around for almost 11 years and I was total broken inside over it. Not really what she was expecting, nor was I but those things can eat into your soul. Your very brave for talking and trusting. And I'm going to look at how some of my beliefs have changed. Thanks for the post.

cbtish said...

That feeling that you are not trying hard enough to change happens when the therapist's formulation is wrong. Only the therapist can fix it, perhaps with help from her supervisor.

It would be interesting if you could share here just one example of the beliefs on your list.

Then convince me that you really do believe it.

Finally, convince me that if you stopped believing it your life would be significantly better in some way.

Jessie said...

I can really relate to this--changing my beliefs about food and eating and my body is something I'm really struggling with right now. And I really like the distinction you make between knowing that beliefs are irrational and actually changing these beliefs because this is so true for me as well. Generally now I know when I'm thinking something that is irrational (even if I like to pretend that it is absolutely rational) but the knowing doesn't make me change the belief. It's strange and counter-intuitive but there it is.

Tiptoe said...

Kim, agreed--thoughts are the hardest thing to change. Sometimes, I think they become ingrained in ways, and it takes a lot of work to un-ingrain them.

I know I am hard on myself and need to probably ease up a bit, especially with the tough stuff.

Eating alone, glad you followed the links and took time to read. There's a lot of me in the personal posts.

Breaking secrets is hard, but I am glad you were able to share them with H. Having both a safe place and to feel safe are important for sharing and eventually breaking free from them.

Jessie, yes, it can be a difficult thing, and rationalizing can make it even harder. I hope you are able to continue working through it and come to a place of peace with them.

Cbtish, I have not forgotten you. I will give an example of a belief and answer what you suggested. But tomorrow. I'm just spent and am going to bed early for me.

I Hate to Weight said...

i was just grumping because i gained .6 pounds since i weighed myself three days ago. POINT 6!!!! is it possible that it really bothers me? it seems inconceivable but it does.

AND, and this is pretty embarrassing to admit,... i have my period now.

thanks for this post. it's a good wake-up call for me

Tiptoe said...

Lissy, glad this post was helpful to you. It can be disconcerting what things bother us sometimes.

Cbtish, one example of a belief would be: "Other people have had much worse trauma than me, so I should not let this (trauma) affect me so much."

There are certainly parts of me that think this way--that I should just be over this trauma. But, of course, the other part of me *knows* that this is simply irrational, because trauma is different for everyone. There isn't a scale that says your trauma is worse than mine, but it is how I feel at times (and for other reasons as well)

I can't say my life would be a vast improvement per se if I stopped thinking this way, but there would at least be less minimization and more acceptance.