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Pollyanna, Depressive, Anxious, Victim, and Realistic Thinking
The Problem: There is not enough money to pay the mortgage this month because my hours at work have been cut.
Pollyanna thinking denies ANYTHING is a problem. Depressive, Anxious, and Victim thinking add self-created problems on top of legitimate ones. Realistic thinking accepts that there is a problem, but does not add unnecessary “stinking thinking” to muddle the situation and make it more difficult to deal with the problem at hand.
Pollyanna thinkers deny any problems exist, so they pile up until they become a crisis (as when the bank arrives at your door and evicts you!). Pollyanna thinking is NOT positive thinking; it is denial of reality. Pollyanna thinking is the opposite of self-care (“the courage to change the things I can”), but instead it is an extreme form of passivity and avoidance.
Anxious thinking is caused by catastrophic thinking patterns – always expecting the worst possible outcome – usually learned in childhood while growing up in a chaotic or traumatic environment. The catastrophe “tape” fills the mind with scary images and thoughts making it significantly more difficult to focus on the problem at hand. Thus, instead of directly dealing with the shortage of funds for the mortgage, anxious thinkers must also contend with the “megaphone” in their brain that blares “disaster, calamity, danger!” As a consequence, anxious thinkers turn one stressful situation (a shortage of money for the mortgage) into a chronic disaster film in the mind adding unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation.
Depressive thinking is caused by the thought patterns of hopelessness and self-loathing, usually learned in childhood, which are triggered (like a cassette tape being turned on) by stressful situations. These “tapes” depress a person who is trying to deal with a problem, making it significantly more difficult for them to solve their problems. Thus, instead of having to deal only with the shortage of money to pay the mortgage (which is bad enough), they also have to fend off the “megaphone” in the brain that tells them the situation is hopeless and they are worthless failures. Thus, depressed thinkers turn one stressful problem into two or more by creating problems that do not exist because the situation is RARELY hopeless and they are certainly NOT worthless.
Victim thinking is the thought pattern that others, or life, are intentionally trying to cause you pain, which is triggered (like a cassette tape being turned on) by stressful situations. These “tapes” instill anger and rage in one’s attempts to deal with a problem, making it significantly more difficult to solve. Thus, instead of having to deal only with the shortage of money to pay the mortgage (which is bad enough), the person also has to fend off the “megaphone” in his brain that blares that others are trying to make his life miserable. Thus, victim thinkers turn one stressful problem (paying the mortgage) into two or more by creating new problems that do not exist because the situation is RARELY the case that one’s problems are entirely caused by someone intentionally trying to do harm. In addition, victim thinkers make themselves powerless by insisting that they can't be happy unless others change, which they can't possibly control.
thinking acknowledges that problems exist and faces them
avoiding getting sucked into unhelpful thinking (self-loathing,
hopelessness, catastrophizing) that only muddies the waters, zaps their
energy and concentration, and destroys motivation. Realistic thinkers
try to understand the problem as best they can through acceptance of
what is: “My hours are cut. I
will come up $200 short for the mortgage, which could lead to
foreclosure.” And then they brainstorm to find solutions and choose
the best option. If that option does not work, then they try another
option. If nothing seems to work, then they seek help from someone or
some source more knowledgeable. They deal with problems directly,
avoiding denial or minimization
If you have a tendency toward Pollyanna, depressive, anxious, or victim
When these knee-jerk reactions of the mind are triggered, the IMPORTANT thing to remember is that they are not facts or the truth, but simply what your programmed/wounded mind tells you under stress. They are simply mental events and nothing more. But since they are so emotionally charged, they tend to grab your attention and sweep you away into a trance-like state of fear, hopelessness, and/or worthlessness. When you recognize this is happening, here are some things you can do to ground yourself back into reality so you can approach problems realistically:
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All Text and most photos by Carl Benedict
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