Want to know how to overcome thinking errors? These are the tested and approved methods you need to know about.
Everyone experiences thinking errors, irrational thoughts that impact our emotions and behaviors, at some point. As a mental health Occupational Therapist, I am giving you the best tips and tricks to overcome thinking errors.
You will learn about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), how thinking errors sabotage success, examples of thinking errors, how to reframe thinking errors, strategies to overcome thinking errors, and more.
After learning about these thinking errors, you will become aware of how they could impact your life and simple strategies to overcome them.
This post is all about how to overcome thinking errors.
Our emotions, thoughts, and behavior are interconnected and influence each other in various ways.
Understanding this connection can help us gain better control over our reactions and make positive choices.
Recognizing the connection between our emotions, thoughts, and behavior, we can develop healthier coping strategies and make more informed choices.
Thoughts, also known as cognitions, are the mental processes that help us interpret and make sense of our experiences. Our thoughts can be :
Thoughts play a significant role in how we perceive and respond to emotions. The focus of this blog post is on thinking errors and how to overcome them.
Emotions are our internal responses to different situations, events, or thoughts.
Emotions can be pleasant such as:
Emotions can be unpleasant such as:
Emotions influence our thoughts and behavior by shaping our perceptions and triggering specific responses.
Behavior refers to our actions or responses to situations. In the social context, our behaviors are seen as acceptable or unacceptable.
Body language is non-verbal communication that is more instinctual but provides insight into someone’s emotions, intentions, thoughts, etc.
Examples of body language include:
Facial expressions are a form of body language and non-verbal communication that is expressed through the movement of muscles in the face.
Examples of facial expressions include:
Our voice is how we communicate and express our thoughts and emotions with others.
Various factors impact how our voice is perceived in social situations, such as:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that helps individuals understand the connection between their:
CBT is an evidence-based therapy that is effective in treating a wide range of mental health diagnoses, including:
CBT emphasizes how thoughts can influence how we feel and behave. By changing our thoughts, we can improve our mental well-being. By doing so, individuals can learn to:
CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that focuses on the present rather than the past. CBT aims to identify and challenge negative or irrational thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive ones.
It empowers individuals to participate in their mental health actively and provides practical tools to navigate life’s challenges.
One of the fundamental principles of CBT is that our thoughts can sometimes be distorted or inaccurate, leading to negative emotions and unhelpful behaviors. This is known as thinking errors.
Success is peace of mind from putting forth our best effort to attain personal goals.
Success varies from person to person; however, success results in prosperity in these three life categories:
Achieving success can be a long journey that involves personality traits such as:
The personality traits listed above are typically associated and correlated with positive thinking.
Negative thoughts or thinking errors are a barrier and often worsen the situation.
If you suffer from negative thoughts at a high rate, you are more likely to:
Thinking errors, or cognitive distortions, are irrational thoughts that impact our emotions and behaviors.
Everyone experiences thinking errors at some point in their life (we are only human).
Thinking errors are developed from past experiences or traumas and are a maladaptive coping strategy for adverse life events.
As you read through the list of thinking errors, reflect on whether you struggle with this type of thinking or not.
Feel free to add your thinking error examples and other ways to reframe the negative thoughts.
On one end of the spectrum, blaming assumes that others have more power over your life than you do, shifting the responsibility and problem externally to someone else.
It’s important to remember that we are responsible for how we feel, and coping with our emotions is something that we do have control over.
On the other end of the spectrum, blaming yourself for every fault and mistake is also maladaptive. While self-reflection and looking internally are important, there are factors outside our control, and it’s unhealthy to focus on ourselves obsessively.
Catastrophizing is assuming the absolute worst when faced with the unknown.
Catastrophizing is fixating on the worst possible outcome, exaggerating a situation’s potential negative outcomes, which can escalate emotions and behaviors.
Disqualifying the Positive is dismissing or ignoring positive events to focus solely on the negative. A good result or outcome is deemed a fluke, accident, anomaly, or pure luck.
Pessimism is focusing solely on the negative and only seeing the worst in a situation. Pessimists are cynical and frequently encounter defeating thoughts; The glass is half empty.
Pessimism is not a mental illness, but it is a personality trait that is associated with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. Pessimists are frequently stressed, which impacts their physical health.
Dwelling is a thinking error characterized by persevering on negative events and worrying excessively.
Emotional Reasoning is believing your emotions are the truth & your feelings about the situation are the reality.
Excessive Need for Approval is being unable to live your life fully and freely because you are overly concerned about approval from others.
If only statements are longing for something that isn’t a reality at the moment. It’s a thinking error that is typically used as an excuse.
Jumping to Conclusions is reaching an inaccurate conclusion & making hasty decisions without analyzing or gathering evidence first.
Fortune Telling predicts a negative future outcome & assumes it will end badly without considering realistic outcomes.
Mind Reading is when you assume you know what others are thinking.
Labeling is making global statements about yourself or others based on past experiences and personal opinions.
Labeling mirrors our internal belief system & the more we label, the more we believe.
Magnification is overly examining problems, shortcomings, mistakes, and negative qualities in yourself or magnifying the positive attributes in someone else.
Minimization is minimizing the importance of events & undermining personal achievements.
Overgeneralizing is making broad interpretations of a single event with minimal evidence.
Overgeneralization uses past experiences to make predictions about the future.
Personalization is overly blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong and is out of your control.
Polarized Thinking is also known as “All or Nothing” and “Black & Whiting Thinking.”
Polarized thinking is done in extremes and absolutes such as “always,” “never,” or “every.”
There are typically only two options – right or wrong and good or bad.
Should Statements are defined as unrealistic & unreasonable demands & a list of acceptable behaviors for ourselves & others.
The focus of Should Statements is on what should’ve been, and the blame is on what you did or didn’t do.
Instead of focusing on goals and dreams in the present, they procrastinate until “the perfect time.”
When you are feeling escalated and out of control, it’s okay to step away and take a break.
Hit the pause button and find a quiet space or do something physical like go on a walk.
Take a minute to do a full body scan and self-check in.
Ask yourself the following reflection questions based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Address your basic needs if they still need to be attended to.
Follow up with these self-reflection questions:
A trigger is something that causes a reaction or a response. A trigger can be events, situations, or thoughts that initiate a specific behavior or emotion.
Reflect on the source of your distress and why it bothers you.
Ask yourself questions like:
When a negative thought enters your brain, notice it and challenge it.
If you are feeling up to it, you can classify what type of thinking error it is (refer to the thinking error list above).
Think about the big picture and focus on reframing the thought to be more helpful and healthy. This will improve your self-awareness and self-regulation skills to handle the challenge effectively.
To make an effective change, you have first to acknowledge there’s a problem. It takes a great deal of humility and setting aside your pride to be vulnerable.
Give yourself grace because you are doing the best you can with the knowledge that you have.
Learn from your mistakes by finding one takeaway lesson and applying it to future similar situations.
Just a friendly reminder that you are in control of the following:
Keep moving forward and stay consistent with challenging your thinking errors. Also, check out this blog post on The Ultimate List of Coping Skills for Adults.
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