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Self Mastery
Using Altered States to Facilitate Self-Mastery.
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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0040| February 12, 2002
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Recognize and Intervene on "Distorted Thinking" - Part II.

Irrational or distorted thinking blocks authentic communication, the source of cooperation, understanding and effective solutions.


This is a continuation of last weeks list of Albert Ellis' 15 common modes of distorted thinking. Distorted thinking can and does impact effective communication and thus should be identified and corrected to improve group process. Learn to identify and intervene on the following modes of distorted thinking in your groups.


8. Fallacy of Fairness
Two people seldom agree on what's fair, and generally there is no court or final arbitrator to decide. Fairness is subjective and based on subjective assessment. Usually it involves a sense of not achieving what is hoped for or desired and tends to be self serving. Usually there are conditional assumptions, "if he really knew how much I contribute he'd give me that promotion." Unfortunately we all see this differently and as a result, fair is person specific not general.

9. Emotional Reasoning
What you feel must be true. "If you feel like a loser you must be a loser, if you feel cheated you must have been cheated."

Emotions are treated as if they are fact when in fact they are simply one data point and reflect subjective responses to experience. Always believing your emotions is like believing everything you read.

10. Fallacy of Change
This assumes that if you pressure people enough they will change to suit you. You tend to focus on other's change as a means of making yourself feel better. We see this in marriage regularly. "If he'd just act this way, I'd be happy." In truth the only person we can change is ourselves. Sometimes this does induce change in others, but don't count on it.

11. Global labeling
Grains of truth become generalized to a global judgment. "All democrats are liberal imbeciles." Or, "All Republicans are corporate profit taking greedy aristocrats." Stereotypes and one-dimensional thinking polarizes and reduces the ability to work cooperatively.

12. Blaming
If someone else is responsible then we can all feel a sense of relief. This ofcourse precludes any responsibility for self. Often we combine this with mind-reading and expect others to know what we want or need. I could have said "no" to the additional work rather than blame my boss for putting me into this time crunch.

13. Shoulds
This distortion operates from a list of inflexible rules about how you and others should act. The rules are right and indisputable. Any deviation is bad. As a result you are in a position to judge and find fault. Cue words include "should, ought, and must." Shoulds affect others (whom we judge) as well as ourselves as we feel compelled to act in a certain way as a result. Karen Homey calls this "the tyranny of shoulds."

14. Being right
In this distortion you are usually defensive. You must continually prove that you are right or correct. Your assumptions about the world and your actions are always right. This makes it very difficult to hear new or alternative points of view, because you tend to ignore and are busy building your argument to prove your rightness. Besides making you hard of hearing, this distortion tends to make you lonely because being right becomes more important that honest and caring relationships.

15. Heaven's Reward Fallacy
In this distortion we always do the right thing in hope of reward at a later date. You sacrifice and slave while collecting brownie points that you can cash in some day. Saints are tough to live with.


Your assignment this week is to survey this list and select your own most favorite distorted thinking mode. Then brainstorm a new action you can practice to correct it. We'd love to hear your perspective on this important subject.  Please email your comments to us.

Skill Related Resource
A Guide to Rational Living, by Albert Ellis 

Albert Ellis is the grand-daddy of modern psychology, and this book is the classic. While many psychologists and authors focus on one or several "pet techniques," in this book, Ellis  shows you how to adapt an integrated set of rational (cognitive), emotive, and behavioral tools to your personal situations. Ellis writes this and many of his other books for us non- psychologists. 

The book starts by briefly summarizing the results of Ellis' ground-breaking work on what we do that causes us to feel and behave differently than we want. The author then teaches his general cognitive system...which includes very specific instructions...on how to change these feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. Ellis terms this system the "A, B, C, D" method of "disputing" irrational thoughts that are "irrational" because they: (i) are not true and (ii) produce results that we don't want. The book then moves beyond this general system and shows you how to easily use cognitive, emotive, and behavioral tools to effectively stop your unwanted patterns. While the methods are extremely user-friendly, they do require work...beyond the reading. 

If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.

About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to reach  their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. Or call me at 800-216-3854. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

In the Spotlight

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on February 19, 2002. 


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