So if you've hung around the forums and read some articles on the topic, you'll have heard of Meta-Cognition - a.k.a. "thinking about your thoughts". Meta-Cognition is instrumental to quitting any addiction - you need to be able to consciously "catch" your subconscious thoughts that lead to the repetition of the addictive behavior. Meta-Cognition is vital to recovery, but it has its dangers. Those dangers have a solution though, and that's Meta-Meta-Cognition. And that's what this post is about (if you hadn't already guessed from the title). What are the dangers of Meta-Cognition (MC)? When I started to use MC as a tool, I got really good at "catching" the thought patterns that would lead me to a relapse. I'd see a thought, way in advance of a relapse, that I knew was going to cause a problem later on. I would also identify my triggers very well thanks to Meta-Cognition - I realized for instance that seeing any kind of sexual material was a possible problem and could lead to relapse, or that fantasizing was another road to relapse. But something else happened that I didn't realize at the time - when I analyzed them in my head, these problems that could lead to PMO became reasons that would definitely lead to PMO. Here are some examples of thoughts like that that: I just had that thought about my cute coworker. Well, I guess it's relapse time soon! Oh no, there's a woman I find really attractive in this TV show, and now she's half-naked! I've felt this before - I'm being triggered and relapse is inevitable! Ah damn, I skipped my meditation today! I'm falling into my old habits again. Guess I'm relapsing next! These thoughts would create a "strain" in my brain - a feeling of dread and inevitability. "Oh no, my brain's working wrong again. Here comes the relapse! Here go my dreams and goals!". And this would make relaxing and taking my urges head on extremely taxing. Why does this happen? This belief that our thoughts or emotions somehow "inevitably lead" to us acting on them is caused by what's called a Cognitive Distortion. Actually it's caused by several. In fact, according to this fancy diagram that I included in an earlier post, I would say it's caused by a combination of the "Emotional Reasoning", "Jumping to Conclusions" and "Magnification/Catastrophization": Looking at the diagram, you'll notice a lot of other common Distortions that many people experience. Don't judge yourself "a loser" just because you see yourself having many of them! I have all of them, and yet I don't consider myself a lost cause. Plus, that kind of judgment would be "Labelling", according to the handy-dandy diagram above . But I need MC to Reboot - how do I avoid Cognitive Distortions? Didn't you read the title? The answer is Meta-Meta-Cognition (2MC)! Study the way you look at your thoughts! I used to look at my all of my "gut responses" as inevitable. If I was triggered - that was it! It's over! I'm a loser! I can't do this! But guess what? Nothing farther from the truth! Until I'm there, PMOing, I haven't relapsed. And until that time comes nothing is inevitable. And I realized this by using 2MC. As you use MC during your reboot, take the time to also use 2MC - look at the way you perceive your addiction and your triggers. This perception is often unnecessarily fatalistic and destructive. As you study your thoughts with 2MC, there are often clear signs that they're undergoing some kind of Cognitive Distortion: The thoughts include judgmental words and phrases such as "loser", "I suck", "I'm not capable of this" The thoughts include words and phrases that suggest inevitability such as "it's over", "I'll definitely relapse now", "oh no - it's only a matter of time now!" The thoughts are negative instead of constructive. A thought is constructive when it attempts to provide a solution to a problem. A thought is negative when it merely describes how bad a situation is, but brings nothing else to the table beyond stress. What do I do with the Distorted thoughts? When you catch an MC thought that is under the effects of a Cognitive Distortion using 2MC, the best way to deal with it is simply to relax, take a "step back" and and observe it. Then - and this is important - realize that the thought says nothing about who you actually are. It's just a product of your subconscious, and will simply disappear if you relax and passively observe it for a while. If you don't do this, you're effectively Cognitively Distorting the 2MC thought about the MC thought... Yeah I know, it gets pretty Meta - but this is a post about Meta-Meta-Cognition after all. Conclusion/TL;DR Meta-Cognition has a way of becoming imbued with negative judgments and logical fallacies that cause problems of their own - Cognitive Distortions. These can lead to feelings of "inevitable relapse" and can cause stress and fatigue which make the process harder. While you're consciously observing your subconscious with Meta-Cognition, you should also be observing the Meta-Cognitive process itself to avoid these Distortions. Stay Meta, NoFappers!