When a negative thought gets stuck in our heads and replays itself over and over again, it can really get us down.
Some times, these thoughs are not true, have very litte facts to support it and can be quite irrational. This form of problematic thinking is called Cognitive Distortion.
Here are some examples of distorted thinking. Are you in the habit of thinking like these?
- we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.
- Example: Susan’s ex-boyfriend James was usually late for their dates. Susan is hesitant to date again.
- Susan’s thought:
- Blowing expected consequences out of proportion in a negative direction.
- Example: The teacher told Mary that she didn’t do too well for a Math test.
- Mary’s Thoughts:
Heaven’s reward fallacy
- We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.
- Example: Jorden has been doing all his science homework diligently and submitting it on time but he didn’t get selected to be the Science Monitor for his class.
- Jorden’s thoughts:
Black or white thinking
- Viewing situations, people, or self as entirely bad or entirely good, nothing in between.
- Example: When Peter brought his vegetable salad to his friends potluck, the host commented, ‘’That’s our third salad.
- Peter’s thought:
- Making self-critical or other critical statements that include terms like never, nothing, everything or always
- Example: Jack was not in school when his friends planned an outing and he was accidentally overlooked.
- Jack’s thought:
- Ignoring the positive things that happen and choosing to focus on the negative instead.
- Example: Kate had her hair cut short and styled differently. After receiving several compliments from friends and family, one person didn’t like her new hairdo and said something not so nice.
- Kate’s thought:
- Belittling oneself by rejecting positive comments and experiences. Down-playing one’s ability and efforts as not being important or meaningful.
- Example: Steven was complimented by his boss for his good work on a project.
- Steven’s thought:
- Making negative assumptions regarding other people’s thoughts and motives
- Example: Aaron inquired about a transfer to a new department but was told by that department manager that the position was already filled.
- Aaron’s thought:
Here’s a pocket check-list that you can use to tick your habitual problematic thinking style. Keep this handy so that you can fight off those nagging negative thoughts.
If you find it hard to beat those negative thoughts and its really messing you up, please talk to someone who can help you.