Solving Negative Thoughts
In various situations, you start to develop thoughts around what you are experiencing. Your emotions arise from your interpretation of the situation based on your thoughts. Sometimes, you may find that your thinking is distorted. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, anger, or other negative emotions.
The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy can be beneficial in identifying, challenging, and changing your thought pattern to one that is more realistic. In working to achieve more balanced thoughts, you can produce more calm, assertive, and affirming feelings. Here is an example of three distorted thought patterns and a more realistic interpretation of each.
Black and White Thinking
- Distorted: Viewing situations, people, or self as entirely bad or entirely good—nothing in between. Such thoughts almost always lead to harsh judgments and alienation from others. Example: “My spouse never complements me, he thinks I am worthless.”
- Alternative: Recognizing that there are good and bad aspects to almost anything and everyone and refusing to reject someone too quickly. Example: “My spouse did not thank me for cleaning the bathroom, but he has complemented me for my cooking.”
- Distorted: Blowing expected consequences out of proportion in a very negative direction. In doing this, you may find that you distance yourself from reacting to a situation as if the negative consequence happened. Example: “I’ll never pass this class. This test I just failed is the start of a miserable semester.”
- Alternative: Take a view that considers the positive and keeps the negative in context. This type of thinking builds on the positive and creates a sense of hope. Example: “Failing this first test is hard to accept, but with hard work and extra effort in my study habits I will be able to pass this class.”
- Distorted: Viewing yourself as not worthy of other people’s time, interest, or acceptance. Example: “I don’t blame them for not liking me because I’m not worth it anyway.”
- Alternative: This type of thinking sees self as worthy of acceptance from others. Example: “I have rights and am a person who deserves respect from others.”