Dr Mark Timlin speaks about schemas or lifetraps that could come to the fore during times of social isolation that we are experiencing as part of how our societies are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Physical health

Make sure to keep physically healthy during times of social isolation. Other underlying conditions, like heart disease and cancer, don’t go away during these times.

Distorted thinking and false beliefs

Research has identified 18 types of distorted thinking or core beliefs. What are these schemas:

  • They are very deep
  • They are mostly formed in childhood and early adolesence
  • They shape the way we see the world
  • They consists of thoughts, emotions, memories, feelings
  • They distort the way we see ourselves and others
  • We can subconsciously act so that they are self fulfilling

These core beliefs don’t go away by themselves. They fight to remain in us. They are associated with anxiety, depression, alcohol dependency, behavioural disorders and other mental conditions.

COVID-19 and schemas

At these times of reduced social contact and lockdowns, two core beliefs or schemas may be triggered even more than normal

Social Isolation/alienation

This is a belief that you are different and you are excluded from the community.

You might have felt that you didn’t fit in as a child, you had different ethnicity or had different interests and were excluded.

Vulnerability to harm or illness

This is a belief that you are at real risk of real catastrophe. It could be financial, health, family, being sued, etc.

You might be excessively cautious in life and not trusting.

This could arise because you had a very fearful parent when you were a child. We need to ensure we don’t do the same for any young children we may have at this time.

Things we can do

Being self aware of this kind of thinking will help us during these times. We catch them through the way we think about ourselves and the way that we interact with others.

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