Common Thinking Errors – A lesson in thought from a Psychiatrist

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from therapy is that the situations we find ourselves in don’t cause our depressed/anxious feelings – our ways of thinking about them do. Everyone goes through struggles and everyone suffers hardship in their lives. How a person responds to those struggles and hardships determines the outcome from them.

If you’re anything like me, it can be incredibly easy to jump to conclusions and imagine the worst case scenario, always. Some of us have brains that are just hard-wired to do so. That may, or may not be any fault of our own. But, if we’re ever going to tackle those feelings, we need to be aware of the errors in thinking in order to make conscious change.

The following are some common, distorted ways of thinking that often increase depression and make it harder to overcome, see past struggles and hardship.

FILTERING – Everyone’s life has some negative things. If you focus on the negative and filter out all positive or neutral things, your life will indeed seem depressing.

EMOTIONAL REASONING – Emotions are based on what we think and often not based on facts. Don’t always believe what you feel. Feelings are not facts.

OVER-INCLUSIVE – You think of one problem, then another and another, until you feel completely overwhelmed. Or you may take on the problems of family members as your own.

BLACK OR WHITE THINKING – You think only in extremes or absolutes, forgetting that most things fall in the middle and are shades of grey.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – You predict a negative outcome without adequate supporting evidence.

MIND READING – You believe that others are thinking and feeling badly about you and you react as if that’s true.

PREDICTING THE FUTURE – You think that things may turn out badly and only focus on the bad things that might happen. You convince yourself that a bad outcome is sure to happen.

CATASTROPHIZING – You imagine the worst and make things seem like a bigger deal than they are. This increases your fear and makes it harder to deal with what is really going on.

SHOULD – You make rules for yourself and others about things ‘should be’. You become angry or upset when these rules are not followed.

Thoughts go unnoticed as we automatically go through our day. This often leads to the belief that an event causes a feeling or behaviour. In fact, it is how we think about the event that causes feelings and behaviours.

In order to change your errors in thought, you first must notice these thoughts when they’re happening.

  • Slow down your thinking.
  • Consciously pay attention to your negative thoughts.
  • Don’t judge your thoughts, just observe them.

Once you’re aware of your negative thoughts, the next important step is to begin trying to change them.

  • Collect the negative thoughts in a capsule within your brain. When you’re ready to deal with them, acknowledge them for what they are and tell yourself that you’re ready to move past them.
  • Ask yourself ‘are these helpful’?
  • Replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts.

It’s not going to be easy. But, instead of looking at something with a negative lens, try to be self-aware and put a new spin on the cycle navigating within your brain.

Personal Example:

One of the things that I struggle immensely with is rejection, it’s something I’ve spoken about in great lengths in therapy. One of the things that was brought to my attention was that, instead of believing that I’m a loser when I get rejected from an employer, instead of believing I’m unqualified, instead of believing that I’m not good enough, something I should consider is that I really have no idea why they didn’t hire me. And since I have no idea, I should stop treating it as a negative reflection of myself.

How do I spin it? Perhaps it was the wrong timing. Perhaps they had equal candidates and they flipped a coin. Perhaps they just didn’t like the tone of my voice. Whatever it is, I cannot change it. What I can do is, instead of thinking that I’m a loser, I can use the jobs I did not get as lessons learned of how to act next time, and how to know when the right opportunity has come along. I can think if it as though I’m gaining experience, not earning rejection.

How you think about something affects E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G in your life. Whether your brain is hard-wired one way or not, what are the steps that you can take to correct, or improve errors in thinking?

I’ve been seeing a Psychiatrist in an effort to help control the massive amounts of anxiety I’ve been suffering from in 2019. My Psychiatrist provides a lot of homework for me to use as tools for self improvement. As I work on myself, I’m sharing the resources provided to me. Why? Spread the wealth, spread the health.

Your mental health and well being are the most important gifts that you can give to yourself. To anyone reading this, I encourage you to please look after yourself. Take from this post what you like and leave what you don’t.

Want to see more on the subjects of mental health and self care? CLICK HERE

28 thoughts on “Common Thinking Errors – A lesson in thought from a Psychiatrist

  1. Another outstanding post, V. I did a lot of the thought-analysing stuff through counselling and also learned to let myself feel certain things. The old way would have been to apply the “should” or “shouldn’t” way of assessing myself. Now I let the feelings happen and deal accordingly.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is something so small, but I really appreciate the way you spell everything in true English, not American English. It motivates me to get better with my spelling and grammar! How silly is that? haha


      1. Haha! Before I had read this, I went and used “wee” in a comment reply. Maybe not the worst English but probably also not the best. I always try to speak and write well and appreciate that you always do the same. You are incredibly articulate. 😊


  2. This is the secret sauce of life! We not only have the ability to manage our thought life, we have an obligation to become intimately aware of our own negative self talk, limiting beliefs and our propensity to blame & shame. If we don’t take responsibility we then limit our ability to love and serve or be happy. I didn’t know millennials had any wisdom yet (haha, just bad baby-boomer humor). Glad I stumbled across your blog, will be following 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sending you peace and positivity as you look to change your way of thinking. I know what it feels like. As long as you’re a working in progress, you’re going in the right direction.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel like a student in a class room desperate to show that I have the right answer. I’m sitting tentatively on the edge of my seat, waving my hand in the air with a look of glee, excitement and happiness to know that I have the right answer. As the teacher scans over the raised hands it becomes even more difficult to ignore me, as I’m half sitting, half standing with my hand in the air willing the teacher to look in my direction so I can sigh a breath of relief as I call out the answer in exasperation.
    CBT!!! they can have psychotherapy and CBT in fact REBT to be exact followed by schema. My sigh is long and relaxing as I relieve myself of the answer and share with everyone else. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha I like your expressive creativity. I’d have to add one more to your list, NLP provided my greatest cognitive/emotional breakthroughs; completely rewrote all of my childhood trauma events and revealed the power over them I never realized I had 😃

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s brilliant. Sorry I’m a bit of a joker sometimes I like to laugh. NLP has a lot of its structures similar I’d say almost identical to REBT
        Have a look at it tell me what you think. I trained in , counselling hypnotherapy NLP then CBT/REBT. NLP It is fantastic at releasing childhood trauma, I used to practice it with teens. Nice to meet your acquaintance. I’m totally new to blogging

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now, I didn’t say that DBT is REBT. They’re different. What I said is that a combo of the 2 (DBT & Gestalt) can be a magical therapeutic tool for some who overthink and can rationalize their way out of anything. Some need a harder push into feeling rather than thinking. 🙂 DBT helps one analyze their feelings and where they come from, along with tools to manage behaviors around feelings.


      3. No you didn’t say that YOU said that, I did. During my studies my lecture would have this debate and what I’m saying is that DBT from my point of view is REBT. Having specialised in them both as a therapist. During a course a DBT therapist was staying the same thing, it’s just done differently.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Gotcha! 🙂 I misread the original comment, too. Thank you for clarifying! I’m a little out of the loop at this time in my life. I worked for years in the field along side MFTs and LCSWs. Life events drew me away from school minutes before starting my own MFT studies. These days I’m content to be a housewife and a nosey blogger with my 2 cents in lots of things. 🙂 Have a lovely day! Thank you again for engaging in discussion with me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Everything happens for a reason Vee. Your rejections and visit to the therapist have taught you a great lesson : Depression is not caused by what happens but How we respond to it.
    Just take this concept a little further : My life depends on How I Respond to whatever life throws at me. Our lives Vee are our own creation. 💯 percent. Once we become aware of this we can tailor make our lives. Our thoughts create our reality. This is as true as the sun rises in the east.
    You may like to read again my post : I am Responsible 💯 percent.
    You have taken a very positive action and gained good karma. You have taken your rejection and your experience and created a post which will help so many.
    Second half of the year is going to be awesome for you 😊🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just had my first therapy session, grateful that I have access. I found noticing the shoulds & cutting them out is very useful. Mostly I’m trying to be aware of how & what I say (eg if I’m talking fast or slow). By paying attention (sometimes retrospectively) I am now careful with the words I choose, & sometimes I like to notice what phrases other people use too. I’m finding NLP fascinating too.
    I also have a gratitude blog, It’s gone from being a bit of a chore trying to think of things to being something I really enjoy now & I see more positives during the day & find myself thinking, “that’s something for my blog!”.
    I think out loud (& blogging counts) so for me I have been paying attention to my words rather than my thoughts.
    Best wishes x


  6. Ive been reading this self help book called “feeling good by david burns” who is a psychiatrist. Im taking my time with it bcz it is very deep and every chapter is like a session with a therapist. I haven’t reflected on anything yet but i have come to realize my types of negative thinking (mostly shoulds and shouldnts, mindreading, and overgeneralization) but i havent gotten to the point of stopping them on my own. Usually ill have to talk to a friend to help me replace my negative thoughts with more realistic ones


  7. These are such important points and even when we are constantly seeking out self-help we forget these basic points that impact how we think. I’m trying to become more aware of when I do these behaviours but also when other’s do too and accepting that it’s not about me and to not overthink it. Projection is highly prevalent but we don’t always notice it which can lead us to ruminate over things we shouldn’t. Definitely saving this post to come back and read as a reminder! Great writing 🙂


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