Catch your own distorted thinking

We oftentimes can caught in patterns of distorted thinking that can lead us to feel anxious or depressed. There are some neat tricks to avoid these patterns. The first is to become familiar with them and to analyze our own thinking for any signs of these patterns when we find ourselves feeling badly. 

Here's a list of some of the most common forms of distorted thinking*. See if you recognize any that you may engage in:

Perfectionism. You have a tendency to think everything should be perfect, including yours and others’ performance.

All-or-nothing thinking. Black-or-white. If a situation falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.

Overgeneralization. You see a single negative event, such as romantic rejection or a career reversal, as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as “always” or “never”.

Mental filter. You focus on a single negative detail exclusively so your vision of all reality becomes darkened.

Negative Thinking. You discount the positive. You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don't count.”

Mind-reading. without checking it out, you assume someone is thinking negatively about you.

Fortune-telling. you predict that things will turn out badly.

Magnification. You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings or minimize your desirable qualities.

Emotional reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. “Because I feel, it is...”

Should statements. You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be.

Labeling. (Extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking.) Instead of saying “I made a mistake”, you say, “I’m a loser”.

Personalization and blame. You hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. (or blame others).

Overestimating. You tend to overestimate the realistic chances of some negative event happening when compared to the objective or scientific reality.

Catastrophizing. You tend to assume that if some worrisome event should happen, the result will be a catastrophe and you won’t be able to cope. You tend to ignore the objective reality and you current coping skills.

Any of this sound familiar?

Most of us engage in some of these forms of thinking. Once you've identified your common patterns, the trick is to catch yourself when you're engaging in these types of thinking and challenge yourself. The times to catch yourself is whenever you're feeling badly. Chances are those are the times you're engaged in some of this type of thinking. The next step is to really challenge those patterns by objectively analyzing the facts. If you have trouble doing that, call us. We can help teach you how to adopt a healthier line of thinking that will leave you feeling better much of the time!

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