Yesterday morning I was somewhat stressed. Luckily, it didn’t ruin my day! After practicing some relaxation and self-talk techniques I described in my previous post, I felt much better – actually happy — by the mid-day.
This morning I received several emails from CycleHarmony Facebook friends sharing with me some of the pains and sufferings they’ve experienced during PMS. Those emails touched me so deeply, because I could feel their pain and the sense of helplessness that came with it. It certainly helped to validate the work I am doing. Thank you so much for sharing my friends, wherever you are.
From their emails I realized that the most painful of all was not the physical discomfort and pains, but rather the emotional hurts inflicted on the women themselves, and even more so on their loved ones. And since I just somewhat effectively managed my own emotional affair yesterday, I realized that by changing our way of thinking, we could change how we perceive and actually experience certain stressful or unpleasant events in life.
Our thinking patterns pretty much run our life, at least the perception of it. And our perceptions shape our reality. During PMS, certain negative thinking patterns that usually hide in the basement of our unconscious, flare up. Why not take advantage of this situation, acknowledge them, look at them, and change them for the better if they no longer serve us well?
This is a big topic and will require several posts to cover properly. In this one, I will share several general cognitive distortions that trigger the irritation, anger outburst, sadness, and depression that we often experience during PMS.
In this pattern of distortion, one negative experience – a bad date, a traffic jam, a conflict a work – is translated into a sweeping pattern of defeat or negativity. One mistake or bad instance often leads to general conclusion such as “I can’t do anything right,” or “No one cares about me.”
This is the “Oh my God, the Sky is falling” syndrome. We see the events as having exaggeratedly and inappropriately negative consequences, and we jump into the worst-case scenarios immediately.
In this distortion, we take everything to heart, we see ourselves as the cause of an external event or someone else’s hurt feelings when, in fact, we couldn’t possibly be responsible.
Negative mental filtering
In this distortion, we only see the dark clouds, not the sunshine. One small or insignificant detail can completely eliminate all of the positive aspects of an event. One mistake can completely wipe out an otherwise good relationship.
It is obvious why these mental patterns could distort our perception of experiences. PMS or not, they affect everyone, though they are especially true for women during the premenstrual phase of our cycles, because we were not feeling very good and our self-esteem may be lower than usual.
And because these mental scripts have been with us for a long time, we are often not aware of their existence. The first step toward modifying the negative mental scripts is to cultivate awareness. Take notice of your internal conversations with yourself – how you talk to yourself, how they serve as sources of stress, and how they affect you emotionally. Ask yourself, “Is this thought logical? Is it true? Where did I learn this?” You will learn so much about yourself, and you’ll be on your way to change them, one conversation at a time.
If you have a story, please share it. It may change someone’s life. It may change yours. Let’s break the silence. Let’s speak up and help and learn from one another.