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Living the Defeated Life

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I've observed that a disturbing number of people are trying to improve their lives and are taking charge of their thinking. If this continues, they won't feel helpless, insecure, and devalued, which could have catastrophic consequences for our economy, which exists in selling products to pander to defeated lives.


In a worse case scenario, people might start giving up fears of success or start daring to learn even if they make mistakes. This could break the cycle of apathy and passivity and lead to thousands of politicians becoming unemployed.




In an attempt to put things back on track then, here are suggestions on easy cognitive distortions you can apply to your thinking to resume a defeated life.




Use all-or-nothing thinking


this is a great one for lazy thinkers because it leads to inevitable failures and excuses. Simply see life and judge it in black and white categories. Don't ever take credit or reward yourself for making any milestones, and *never* for trying. If your performance fell short of perfections, you are a total failure. No excuses, no mitigating circumstances.


If this seems too harsh, use a double-standard and allow others to fail, but never yourself. This will prove to them that you think you're better than they are, while allowing you to appear kind and sympathetic on the surface.






In whatever you do, be a lazy thinker. This one is sometimes traditional, inherited from parents who saw some types of people as sub-human. In the Good Ole Days, you were allowed to call people what you thought they were without having to face consequences. But it's still possible to act and think like this, and avoid having to treat someone as an individual. Treating each person as an unknown instead of assuming you already know everything important by their skin, gender, dress, or religion takes a great deal of time and energy, and you secretly know it won't be worth it anyway, although making a pretend attempt and then ignoring whatever doesn't fit can avoid ugly legal charges while validating your experienced mind.


But that's other people, all those people you get to blame for your failures. What if you are starting to succeed on your own? Overgeneralization is your friend. Take a single negative event and declare it as a never-ending pattern. One simple failure for any reason can be ridden into "this always happens" thinking and keep you from every really having to try again.




Mental Filtering


This is a bit the same, but is for those of you who have trouble seeing reality as a blur of similar things that you can declare identical. If you see a series of unique events mental filtering is your friend here to help. What you do is pick out a single negative detail or situation and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened and stained. It's kinda like using a single drop of ink to darken water. Make sure you brood on injustice, how life isn't fair, and stay as inwardly focused as you can. This helps to avoid being distracted with a recognition that life must actually be pretty good for you to be able to use this, instead of having to wonder if you'll eat this week or how to scratch your nose without arms or legs. Mental Filtering works really really well with the next distortion. It's like two for the price of one!




Disqualifying the Positive


To help you stay focused on defeat and how life treats you without you having any control and to ensure it's NOT YOUR FAULT, disqualify the positive. It's hard to go right with this powerful tactic. By rejecting positive information or experiences that conflict with your feelings, you can maintain a negative belief that is clearly contradicted by evidence from your everyday experiences. Stoutly insist that "it doesn't count", or "you say that because you have to love me"; resist firmly any misguided attempt to point out your feelings aren't reality, they just feel like it. Don't be hijacked by puerile things like "logic" or platitudes about attitude. You can be a failure, and there will always be something to blame for it.




Jumping to the Conclusions


This is a favorite of people who think they are intelligent or wise, and works very well on a few levels. It allows you to act as if you have superpowers, are innately superior to everyone else, and to help others by giving them reasons to feel ignored or disrespected. Who says you're not a team player! And unlike most exercise, you can do these jumps effortlessly and automatically if you'll just practice them, to the point that walking through the steps that lead from a trigger event to an emotional defeat will just become too boring and frustrating to even contemplate. This is the exercise for the defeated life and you'll never want to try another once you buy into this.


The practical application is to make a negative interpretation without having to be burdened with definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. See how this frees you from things like details, logical, even reality? You're better than the rest, you don't need to be able to explain. You just know the truth. Believe your feelings and intuitions, and don't let anything challenge your right to fail.


For added fun, try these variation! Mind Reading: Ever want a magical superpower? This is for you. You and you alone get to decide that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't even need to check it out with them! It doesn't matter anyway (this is GREAT for a discussion with a spouse!). You know what they were thinking, what their motivations are, and what they are truly feeling no matter what they say. Stick to your guns with this, do not every give them the benefit of the doubt. If it could be taken and used against yourself, ram it home! They are trapped in their poor weak head, without your superior powers, and they won't be able to prove that their motivations were different from what you say if you include most of the actual actions or words. If some don't fit - just argue that they said what you heard anyway! They don't know what comes out of their mouths and you do. They're probably lying anyway, because the world is hell and you are all trapped together, so if they tried to help you, it was manipulation because they wanted something. YOU know your true value inside. If they don't agree, they just bought into your mask, and it makes them fools as well. See how superior you get to be with this one? Even in failure there is victory, and you might get to pull them down too!


Predicting the future: This aspect of jumping to conclusions has a beauty all its own. Only you can anticipate the future, and if anyone disagrees, they can be ignored because they just have to wait to see. If you work at it, you can use distortions to help your prediction happen. You know that things will turn out badly, you know that your prediction of doom and failure will happen, and if you just give up and don't even try (say you're over-whelmed and paralyzed, and you can pick up sympathy attention!), you will be right. Even if you try, you can do it in such a way you'll be able to quit at any time, having the satisfaction of being a true seer. If someone else succeeds? Don't worry, you can say they are special and it would've failed for you. Robs them of a true victory, and ensures you have a safe defeat. If you dare to hope, you could be hurt - and you're able with your mental superpowers to see every excruciating detail of pain to the point you can feel it before it even happens! You ARE special, and no one can make you win however hard you try. If you accidentally succeed, use all-or-nothing to find a flaw and seize back your failure, or disqualify the positive. No one can take away your failure if you'll only work hard enough. You're used to failure - if you succeed, someone might have an expectation you should do it again. That way lies madness.




Catastrophizing or Minimizing


Whenever possible, seize every chance to exaggerate the importance or possible harm in a situation or event. It makes you sound more important and gets people to listen, ensuring they understand why a failure as delicate as you is unable to succeed. Or, if that's not working, try the opposite and just shrink things until they become tiny or unimportant, but still get sympathy and can be an excuse. "Oh don't worry, I already broke my back, you save yours, I'll do this," can lead into hours of guilt, sympathy, resentment, and encourages others just to never ask again.




Emotional Reasoning


You can use this one to tear apart anyone's arguments. "I feel it, therefore it must be true". You are the absolute baseline of "normal", you are the center of the emotional universe, so what you feel must be reality for everyone. If they don't agree, they either don't understand, are being mean, or are insensitive and selfish. Believe in yourself. You know that your negative emotions are the absolute reflection of the way things really are. Anyone who doesn't agree is probably insane, or being abusive. For extra punch, try combining this with mind reading!






Always, ALWAYS, motivate yourself shoulds and should nots. You know what a loser you are - if you aren't emotionally whipped and punished you can't possibly be expected to do anything. Musts and Oughts also work particularly well here. If by some chance you are forced to accomplish something, you can disqualify it because it's something everyone should be doing anyway, so it doesn't count! See how well these work together? If you're feeling angry at someone else being happy, the insensitive sot, direct these outward. Life is NOT to be enjoyed. It's full of sin and hell and a good person like you makes sure everyone can endure with you. Apply shoulds and musts to others, and find the bitter joy of anger, frustration as they fail your standards, and resentment with not only them, but the situation! And remember, only have shoulds and musts that you are powerless to live up to yourself. that way you can all fail together, and they won't get all uppity on you. Talking back to a guardian of shoulds and musts is disrespectful and should be punished if you can manage it. Guilt and condemnation work well here, as do back-biting and slander. An accusation can be disproved, but rumors and slander are vapors and people just love to hear about others' failures. You get the attention AND get to ruin someone - a double bargain of defeat!






I've been saving this, even though it is only an extreme form of over-generalization. What you do is make sure to use inaccurate and emotionally loaded labels instead of a realistic accurate assessment of the error or situation. "I'm a total loser" covers everything, past, present, future, without having to think what went wrong, and how you could do it differently. See how this works? Let's do another, these are powerful and fun, once you have the hang of them. "He's a lazy bum." If you label him, you don't have to find out anything else about the person or the situation. Who cares if his child died last night of leukemia? The lazy bum is getting paid to be here, not to stand around moping, and he's the reason you can't do your job. It ensures that you don't have to ever communicate with someone who will upset your view of reality - which we've proven by emotional reasoning is the only right view. If they disagree, they are wrong. Win *and* keep a defeated life! Last one, an exercise for the defeated reader. "All [members of a religion] are terrorist". I'll give you a hint - every religion has been abused by someone no matter what it teaches! You simply cannot go right with labeling, a foundational technique of the defeated life. When you can demonize and dehumanize those who are different or disagree, you don't have to deal with them on any meaningful level except to eventually kill them. Which they deserved anyway, right? And you get to kill without guilt! They don't count because they were evil wrong-thinking and Other!






Last one. Remember, YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Your emotions tell you so. And as much as you flirt with your lovers, Death and Suicide, telling you how much easier everything will be when you're gone, you really can't grasp the emotional reality of it. That way you can fantasize about how upset people will be, and how much they'll regret and how you showed them you were really defeated! Secretly, you know you'll be hanging around somehow to get the satisfaction of finally being right. So, again, IT IS ALL ABOUT YOU.


The practical application can be used for anything! You are the single root cause of all that goes wrong in life. Every negative external event is your fault. Every person's negative reaction is about you. If you walk in and a secretary is short with you, demand to know what you did to set her off! It couldn't possibly be unrelated to you. She just broke her foot? Excuses. You have fibromyalgia and you don't take it out on others (minimizing!) It had to be about you.


If the car runs out of gas, and it's your first time riding in it as a passenger, it's your fault. You know it. You know they know it (because everyone is always thinking about you too). You should've noticed and said the needle was low. If the sun goes out? You probably didn't do the dishes or wash your hands, but trust me when I say it: it is your fault. You have unimaginable power to be the center of all that is wrong and evil in life. Trust me on this - have I lied to you yet?

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Peredhil, if I didn't know you better I would say that someone is receiving a rebuke.


It's excellent that you feel free enough, especially here, to be ever-so-gently sarcastic. Or is it that it IS placed here against that pedestal we put you on (er. . ."oops" isn't the word, for the motivation was pure. . .maybe just "sorry" for elevating the person as well as the principle) that it's more effective sarcasm, as the reader tips her head to listen for the compassionate undertone, notices the echoing lack, and realizes that something is askew about the entire piece?

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I have a list of cognitive distortions I review occasionally, because they are just so darned easy for me to slip into. I tend to write from different "points of view", so what you may detect is that this piece was written, not by Peredhil, but by Elladan. It's a self-examination piece, a rebuke to my own lazy thinking, taken through figures of speech to extremes.

Amazing catch - most people can't tell which "me" is writing. *hug!*

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