Co-written by: Drs. Yvonne & Scott Rheinschmidt Ph D LPC
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” – William Shakespeare
Have you ever found yourself making statements to yourself or aloud which just make you feel bad? I remember a song from the tv show Hee Haw that said “Gloom, despair, and agony on me. Deep, dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair, and agony on me”. This week’s Mindful Moment will focus on how faulty thinking a.k.a. cognitive distortions not only create stress, but negatively affect our moods, relationships, and can even lead to more serious mental health problems like anxiety and depression.
Cognitive distortions according to Dr. David Burns (2008) interfere with our ability to think through difficult and sometimes complex problems. Such as:
- Mental filter: Dwelling on the negatives, ignoring the positives.
- Jumping to conclusions: Concluding things are bad without any evidence. Mind-reading (assuming that people are reacting negatively to you) and fortune-telling (predicting that things will turn out badly).
- Magnification or minimization: Blowing things way out of proportion.
- Emotional reasoning: Reasoning from how you feel: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.”
- “Should” statements: Criticizing yourself or other people with “shoulds”, “musts” and “oughts,”
- Labeling: Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I’m a loser.”
- Blame: Blaming yourself or other people and overlook ways that you contributed to a problem.
The above statements probably sound familiar. The question now is how we reduce using faulty thinking when we are trying to solve a problem.
First, we begin with identifying automatic thoughts then we need to consider alternate points of view. In this way, we develop a more balanced way of thinking thus reduce our distress.