“Change your thoughts and you change your world” – Norman Vincent Peale
By: Karen R. Thompson, LMSW, CEAP, CAADC, EAC Clinical Specialist – Did you know that you can change the way you feel by changing your thoughts? This is the basic premise of Cognitive Therapy, which focuses on helping individuals shift out of negative thought patterns that can contribute to anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. In Cognitive Therapy, therapists help clients develop self-awareness of unhelpful thought patterns or self-defeating thoughts.
All-or-Nothing Thinking: This is absolute thinking or black and white thinking – good or bad, success or failure.
Overgeneralization: Using words such as ‘always’ or “never” when thinking about events.
Mental Filters: Dwelling on a negative detail and focusing on it exclusively, filtering out everything else.
Discounting the Positive: Ignoring and rejecting positive experiences. Telling yourself it wasn’t “good enough.”
Jumping to Conclusions: This is done in two ways – mind reading and fortune telling. In mind reading, you believe someone is thinking something, but they are not. In fortune telling, you predict that things will turn out badly.
Magnification: Exaggerating the importance of your problems and shortcomings or minimizing importance when good things happen.
Emotional Reasoning: Assuming negative emotions reflect the way, things are. For example, if you have feelings of guilt, you assume you must be a bad person.
“Should” Statements: Thinking that you “should” have done something a particular way.
Labeling: Judging yourself or someone else by putting a label on them. This is extreme all-or-nothing thinking.
Personalization and Blame: Blaming yourself or someone else for an event or situation that is out of your control.
When you become more aware of these patterns, you can quickly identify the negative thought, correct your thinking, and choose to shift toward more positive and realistic thoughts.
Over time, the healthier thought patterns become the habit.
Clinical research has demonstrated that cognitive therapy skills can be very effective in reducing both depression and anxiety.
To explore this topic further or if you have other life struggles, please contact EAC and set up an appointment. We’re here to help!
Source: Burns D. The Feeling Good Handbook. Revised edition. New York: Penguin; 1999