• Jo Rust

EVERYONE suffers from these irrational thoughts

Which of these irrational thoughts do you suffer from?

I know, you're probably thinking: "I don't hold any irrational beliefs". I certainly never thought I did. Until I embarked on my journey of healing a few years ago and learned all about cognitive distortions. Pesky little things that I wasn't even aware had infiltrated my mind and made itself at home as a filter through which I would view the world.

I call them shit filters. In other words: filters that make everything look like shit.

It's only once I became aware of these buggers that I was able to start restructuring any irrational or negatively biased thoughts and beliefs.

It is one of the most helpful tools I have found in helping me better cope with anxiety, depression, C-PTSD and more.

What are Cognitive Distortions?

Irrational thoughts and beliefs that influence our emotions and behaviours on a daily basis. More often than not these beliefs are formed during our early-developmental years. EVERYONE experiences cognitive distortions to some degree. Though in their most extreme form these thoughts can become harmful.

Simply put: cognitive distortions are thought patterns that cause people to view reality in inaccurate - usually negative -ways.

Examples Of Cognitive Distortions

  • Filtering - Focusing only on the negative and ignoring the positive.

  • Catastrophizing - Always expecting the worst-case scenario.

  • Polarized Thinking - All or nothing thinking.

  • Heaven's Reward Fallacy - Expecting to be rewarded for self-sacrifice.

  • Control Fallacies - Either assuming that only others are to blame, or assuming that only you are to blame.

  • Always Being Right - Being right supersedes everything.

  • Fallacy of Fairness - Assuming that life should be fair.

  • Personalization - Always assuming responsibility for everything.

  • Overgeneralization - E.g. A girl was once mean to me = all girls are mean.

  • Jumping to Conclusions - There's a saying that goes: "Assumption is the mother of all f&%#ups".

  • Emotional Reasoning - E.g. If I feel it, it MUST be true.

  • Blaming - Everyone else is always wrong.

  • Fallacy of Change - Expecting others to change.

  • Global Labeling - Generalization on a global scale.

  • "Shoulds" - Unwilling to budge on one's own rules. Unacceptable if you or others break these rules. Expecting others to live by your rules.


How Do You Change It?

First off, take some time to sit down and make a list of possible cognitive distortions you think you may suffer from, using the above list as reference.

Next: Keep a thought journal on a daily basis. Whenever you feel negative feelings creeping up, jot it down in your journal. Ask yourself what caused you to feel this way. What event triggered it? What thoughts came up for you? E.g. Feeling anxiety surrounding a co-worker who ignored you when you greeted them. Now you think they're angry at you.

Then: Examine the evidence.

Ask yourself: is this a thought or a fact?

E.g. Did you do anything for your co-worker to be angry at you? Are you just making this about you or is your co-worker maybe going through a difficult time and maybe didn't even hear you when you greeted them? Did you ask them about it or did you jump to a conclusion?

Making ourselves aware of irrational and negative thoughts we might have on a daily basis is the first step to changing it through restructuring these thoughts.

The most important question you can ask yourself is: Is this a fact or just a thought?

I hope you find this helpful.

Love, Jo

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