Cognitive Restructuring – Common Thought Errors that Lead to Depression and Anxiety

Sometimes, we allow ourselves to think in ways that lead us down paths of destruction. Common errors in thought processes can lead to a number of negative symptoms; most notably anxiety and depression!

Disqualifying the Positive – Discounting the good things that have occurred in your life or that you’ve accomplished, saying “that doesn’t count.”

Overgeneralization – Seeing a pattern based on just one event, being overly broad/generalizing about a specific event, one mistake makes you a complete failure. “Everything is always going wrong.” “Nothing good ever happens.”

Mental Filter – Only paying attention to certain types of evidence, picking out the one negative and focusing on it. Noticing your failures while ignoring or overlooking your successes.

Should, Must, Ought – Using critical words like ‘should,’ ‘must,’ or ‘ought,’ when talking to yourself can lead to feelings of guilt and/or failure. These are judgmental and unforgiving expectations that we place upon ourselves. And when we say “she/he should have…,” we set ourselves up for frustration.

Comparisons – Constantly comparing yourself to others, trying to Keep up with the Joneses, placing your value in how you see yourself in relation to others.

Jumping to ConclusionsMind reading, where we think we know what others are thinking without concerning ourselves with what might actually be happening. Fortune telling, quite simply, we try to predict the future. Emotions control your interpretations rather than a wise mind.

All or Nothing Thinking – Also called black and white thinking, you think in absolutes: “If I’m not perfect, I’m a failure” and “I’ll either do it right or not at all.”

Catastrophizing and Minimizing – Magnifying, blowing things out of proportion are known as catastrophizing, or thinking in catastrophic ways. Downplaying or diminishing the importance of something in an inappropriate way is minimizing.

Emotional Reasoning – Allowing your emotions to dictate your interpretations of situations rather than being objective, assuming that because you feel that way, it must be true. “I feel embarrassed, so I must be dumb,” or “I didn’t get invited to his party – he must not like me.”

Personalization – Blaming yourself, taking responsibility for things that aren’t your fault, assuming if someone has a negative emotion, it is a response to something you’ve done. The opposite of this, of course, being that you blame others for something you know was your own doing.

Labeling – Assigning labels to other people or ourselves, evaluating our self-worth and others’ worth in inappropriate ways “I’m a loser,” “She’s such an idiot,” “stupid,” “fat.”

When you recognize these maladaptive thought patterns as they happen, you will be able to decrease unnecessary stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms you’re causing yourself by misinterpreting your situations.

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