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?

Be a good person.

You can be vulnerable and still be powerful. You can have a gentle heart and still be rock-solid to your core. You can be as calm as a cool breeze, but as fierce as a tiger. The measure of true strength is to embody the characteristics of the full spectrum.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life is the messy bits. Speak your truth, love your family, care for your friends and be yourself. Your social media platforms, your blogs, your conversations with people, they don’t need to be a perfectly curated collection of beautiful and noteworthy. Be real. Be truthful. Be you. If someone’s not willing to listen to the truth, find someone else to talk to.

Being real about how the world actually works, about how life really is, that’s what I appreciate in people.

Don’t internalize the bad. Nobody needs to be walking around with that weight on their shoulders. Always speak your truth. You’ll feel sooooooo much better about life when you do.

Also, be a good person. It doesn’t take a lot. Just be a good fucking person.

Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.

The time, 11:49 pm. The mood, content. The setting: perched at the edge of the couch, watching the sun dip behind the trees, saying goodnight to another peaceful day.

I’m reaching the end of the week that I dubbed my week of positivity. It was my goal to, for the week, all week, stay positive. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. It definitely wasn’t. I consider myself a realist by nature, so staring down the barrel of some particularly crappy situations and choosing to not let it get the better of you, it’s tough. But, I’m here to say that it is do-able.

As mentioned in a post earlier on this week, my mom’s healthy. Which that, that is reason enough to be eternally thankful.

Other positive things that happened this week? I’ve been babysitting my brother’s dog for the past couple of days. He’s actually done a lot for brightening my mood. I was trying to pin point why this dog was making me so happy and it was really my brother that hit the nail on the head with why Jaxon (the dog) is so nice to have around.

“Jaxon is really growing on me!” I texted him.

“Yeah, he’s a pretty great dog to have around. He listens well and he just always seems to be in a good mood.” He texted back.

That’s it. That’s it right there. This dog is always in a good mood. He’s always got a ‘dog smile’ on his face. He wags his tail like he’s excited to be everywhere and involved in anything. He loves attention but he also loves when we leave him alone. He prances around like he doesn’t weigh 100 pounds and he’s totally unaware that there’s anything bad in this world. I realize that I sound crazy as I’m talking about a dog in this way, but it’s just… so heartwarming to be around him. I truly believe that pets make us better. And this dog, he definitely has made me better this week.

One thing that has been an extremely important mood booster to me this week was all of the introductions that I got to read on my blog. Making a post asking for introductions, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to get. Honestly, I was expecting maybe five-to-ten people to respond, tops. The responses that I got were really overwhelming. It was so special to me to be able to read about so many of you, and to learn more. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This space, this wordpress world, has been such a safe space for me over the past six months. My mind is truly blown with how many wonderful people I’ve crossed paths with on wordpress. Honestly, if I could go back in time, I would tell myself to make a wordpress account a lot sooner than I did.

Another moment that was extremely important during my week was taking my niece and nephew out for slurpees. B and V (she’s V too as she’s named after me) went to get slurpees/screamers, and as we were walking to the till with their cups full of sugar, B patted me on the arm and said ‘Auntie, thank you so much!’ Naturally, I asked him why he was thanking me. His response: ‘Because you just make things so much better. You make me feel better and you make everything better. It’s so nice to have you around. And I’m not just saying that because you’re buying me ice cream’. I nearly teared up there in the store. I didn’t, because he’s 10 and would totally make fun of me for that. But I wanted to. Such a nice compliment from a ten year old kid. If he get understand that now, at 10, imagine what he’s going to be like when he grows up!

There’s definitely been some negative things happening. There’s definitely been some things that made me anxious and scared. But, overall, I would say that I made some serious headway in being able to deal with those things, cope with those things or completely see past those things.

The power of positivity is real.

I’ve decided that I’m going to start leaving notes about things that I like about myself on the end of my blog posts. Why? I’m trying to boos my own self-esteem, so I want to think of more positives. I also think that it’ll be nice, when I look back on these posts one day in the future, to be able to see that I ended each post with a positive note. So, here goes:

I really like my eyes. They’re a really nice ocean-blue colour and I get complimented on them a lot. I don’t mean that in a cocky way, I just mean that of all the things people can be complimented on, I’m frequently complimented as having beautiful eyes. They definitely are attention grabbing when you see me.

How to tackle a shit day.

We all have days when we wake up sad, mad or filled with angst. It’s part of the human condition. And, when you get upset or are having a bad day, it can be really easy to crawl into bed with a bunch of junk food and hide from the world.

The thing is, when you’re having a bad day, that’s probably one of the worst things that you can do for yourself. If anything, crawling into bed is only going to prolong that bad mood. Feeding into negativity promotes more negativity and that, well that is a vicious cycle that no one wants to stay in for too long.

I’ve been writing this post over the past few weeks because I’ve been feeling as though when people make lists like these, they always say the same things, and those lists just aren’t doing it for me. Not everyone can find peace from meditation or trying to think positively.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do to help tackle shitty days.

Get up, get dressed and eat a healthy breakfast. Why? Getting dressed is going to (hopefully) keep you from crawling back into bed. Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism for the day. If you’re dressed and have eaten, you’re telling your body that this day will not be spent in bed.

Go and buy your coffee, or smoothie or whatever your morning drink is. Whether it’s $1.50 at Tim Hortons, $7.00 at Starbucks, or a cup of joe or smoothie from your local cafe, go and get it. One, you owe it to yourself to treat yourself and two, going out will force you to get out of the house. Getting out of the house on a day when you’re not in a good mood will help give you motivation for the day. Not to mention, coffee houses are notoriously chill places and chill environments can help keep you calm when you’re in a shitty mood.

Exercise. Exercise is so integral to defeating a terrible mood. I was recently informed by a Psychiatrist that just a half hour of minimal exercise is the equivalent to a low-dose of Prozac to the brain. Thus, exercising can literally make you happier. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Go for a walk! Climb some stairs. Turn on the Tone-It-Up Girls videos on youtube and follow along. All exercise is good exercise.

Do something good in your neighbourhood. Good deeds bring good moods. A friend of mine said that every time he is having a shitty day he goes to the park by his house and picks up trash. It’s a small thing but it means a lot to him and it means a lot to the kids who play in the park. You don’t need to pick up trash, but doing something nice in the area that you live will definitely help you feel better, both about yourself and the place that you live.

Make self care a priority. “With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.” – Susan Weiss Berry . What does this look like? Well that depends on what your style is. For me, I love to put an expensive sheet mask on my face and do some foam rolling over my muscles. For other people, self care can mean getting a manicure, or a massage, playing an instrument or reading a book. Whatever self care looks like to you, take some time for self-care.

Listen to some upbeat music. And when I say upbeat, I mean upbeat. Don’t put sad songs on. Sad songs will mimic your mood and keep your mindset in the same shitty place. Put some upbeat songs on. Songs that make you want to sing along. Songs that have the potential to brighten your mood just by hearing them. Songs that motivate you. Suggestions include: Walking on Sunshine, Girls just wanna have Fun, Uptown Funk, Moves Like Jagger, Good Life, Wake me up before you Go Go… there are so many. Check upbeat playlists on Spotify and youtube if you need help finding any.

You are what you eat, so eat food that’s good for you. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m in a bad mood, I crave junk food. The thing about that is, junk food can most often make you feel lethargic and bloated, worsening the bad mood. Try and aim for healthy foods that will give you energy and fuel for the day. Leafy greens, complex carbs, foods rich in proteins that your body can literally turn into energy, that’s what will hep you. Just remember to boil or steam your cruciferous vegetables prior to consumption.

Make a ‘to do’ list for your day, and, make the top two items things you’ve already completed. When lacking in motivation, it can be difficult to feel as though you’ll accomplish anything with your day. Writing a ‘to do’ will help you to acknowledge realistic goals for the day, even with a shitty mood. Writing two items at the top that you’ve already completed is a trick that I’ve picked up over the years. See, a ‘to do’ list feels more do-able when it’s already been started. But purposefully putting something on your ‘to do’ list that you’ve already done, you’re tricking your brain into believing that your list is already started, and thus, more easy to conquer.

Write a blog post about it. This suggestion has been placed last because it may not be the same for everyone, but I know for many people, blogging about a bad mood or a shit day can provide some catharsis. If you’re looking for an outlet, pouring your heart out to strangers on the internet is a pretty good one. I’ve found people on wordpress to be a lot kinder about life’s struggles then most people I know. Don’t be afraid to show the real, messy bits of life on your blog. It could definitely help.

Turn on some episodes of Friends, or Seinfeld, or Frasier, or something from the late 90’s early 2000’s. Something that’s full of sarcasm with plenty of humour can be kept on in the background to make you laugh or bring a smile to your face. They just don’t make TV like they used to.

Distract yourself with someone else’s life. This sounds a little silly, but if you’re in a shit mood and nothing else has worked, sometimes distracting yourself with someone else’s life can be helpful. I have one person that I like to call when this happens. Hearing all about his life helps me to stop thinking about mine. If you have someone who can do that for you, give them a call, talk to them for a half hour, or an hour, or however long they’ll talk to you for. Lending an ear can provide catharsis.

Treat yourself. Don’t just purchase your coffee, remember to treat yourself in general. This doesn’t mean go and max-out your credit card. This just means… be nice to yourself. Buy yourself some dinner, or head to that Yoga class you’ve been thinking of. Do something that treats yourself. Why? You’re worth it.

If you’re having a bad day I hope that you’re able to find some peace. Stay calm, surround yourself with things that can make you happy, pick up your mood or, at the very least, limit your misery. And please don’t stay in bed all day. Staying in bed all day will only make you feel worse.

Sending some positive vibes to the universe, because as with all things in life, this too shall pass (the bad days).

Self-esteem is a work in progress.

Lately I’ve been feeling as though my anxiety is a lot like an injury that tends to flare up when I don’t take care of myself. It’s a reminder to take consistent care of myself and to get the right kind of rest. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to put my metaphorical feet on the metaphorical couch.

Something that I struggle immensely with is low self-esteem. It’s something that I’ve always struggled with. For a lot of my life, I’ve put blame for that on other’s, but I’m learning through working with a therapist that I should be doing the work inside of myself to make myself feel better. It’s easy to feel anxious when you do not believe your worth is much.

Characteristics of low self-esteem:

  • Neglect to personal appearance
  • Poor eye contact
  • Dull eyes
  • Flat facial expressions
  • Drooped shoulders
  • Rare laughter or smiles
  • Neglect to personal health
  • Increased illness
  • Increased fatigue
  • Tendency to focus on others and wanting to fix them rather than their own self
  • Decreased energy
  • Decreased ambition
  • Decreased happiness
  • Decreased ability to cop with problems
  • Increased chance of addictive behaviours
  • Tendency to become involved in destructive relationships
  • Decreased ability to make and achieve goals
  • Decreased ability to stand up for yourself
  • Allows others to choose for you
  • Blaming others for problems

I don’t know about you, but I read and resonated with many of the things listed above.

The following questions are a part of the ‘Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale’. After reading the above characteristics, answer the following statements (strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree) with respect to yourself in relation to self-esteem:

  1. On a whole, I am satisfied with myself.
  2. At times, I think I am no good at all.
  3. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.
  4. I am able to do things as well as most other people.
  5. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.
  6. I certainly feel useless at times.
  7. I feel that I am a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others.
  8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.
  9. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
  10. I take a positive attitude towards myself.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice that you can answer some of these in a positive light to your character whilst still believing very negatively of yourself.

Take one question from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and answer the following questions with respect to that one response:

Where did you form this belief of yourself?

__________________________________________________________

How long has this belief been with you?

__________________________________________________________

When do you notice this belief affects you most?

__________________________________________________________

Have you had experiences that challenge this belief?

__________________________________________________________

What is one thing you could do (one small step that you could take) towards changing this belief?

__________________________________________________________

Like all things in life, there is no quick fix. As much as I would like to snap my fingers and believe in myself wholeheartedly and fully, it’s going to take time. I know where my flaws lie, and I know that I need to value myself for. I don’t think I’m alone in that though. I think we could all value ourselves a little more.


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 mental health and self care? CLICK HERE

Mental Health Resources from a Psychiatrist

One of the things that I’ve learned working with a Psychiatrist over the past two months is that if something is wrong, I am in charge of fixing it. I don’t just get to go into her office and say ‘fix me!’ I am responsible for fixing myself. If there were only one thing she couldn’t stress to me more during our sessions it’s that ‘You get out of therapy what you put into therapy. It’s called self-healing for a reason’.

My Psychiatrist provides a lot of ‘homework’. I get a lot of handouts to take home – paperwork to fill out, not for the purpose of being graded, but more for the purpose of self-reflection. What I’ve been thinking lately is that I should share these handouts and booklets provided to me. So, that’s what I’m going to start doing. I’m making an official ‘page’ for this on my blog, and I’ll be sharing the handouts that I get from my Psychiatrist.

FYI – I’ve told her about my blog and she’s all for me sharing these resources. Her response was ‘Hey, if it can help, spread the wealth for better health’.

In the first installment of this series, I am including a list of definitions. Definitions, while they may seem like a straightforward subject, are important to read and differentiate. Often times when we think of our mental health, each of these different definitions can mesh together into one big jumbled mess. This, in a sense, can contribute to confusion and panic within our minds. So, clear definitions are integral to understanding one’s self and mental health.

Self – A person’s self is the sum of all he/she can call their own. The self includes, among other things, a system of ideas, attitudes, values and commitments. The self is a person’s total subjective environment. It is the distinctive centre of experience and significance. The self constitutes a person’s inner world as distinguished from the outer world consisting of all other people and things.

Self Concept – The mental imagine one has of oneself. A person’s opinion of himself/herself. Self concept is a mental picture that represents a person’s opinion of himself/herself. That mental picture has three aspects to it: appearance, performance and status.

Appearance: How do I look? It’s important because it is something we consider every day. Compliments or criticism affects this part of our self concept and relates to how we view our bodies, dress and personal grooming.

Performance: How am I doing? It relates to how we view our abilities, our skills, our knowledge and our sense of responsibility.

Status: How important am I? We all desire to feel respected and admired by others. It relates to how we view our importance among people (family name, wealth, education, position or social rating)

These three aspects came from how we feel rated by others. We develop our self concept by stepping back and looking at the picture of ourselves. Our memories that have accumulated mostly in childhood when we are impressionable, form the network for the tapestry of our self concept.

Self Respect – Regard for one’s own standing or position. The degree of honour one shows oneself. Values that you judge yourself by. The degree to which you meet the standards you have for yourself, give you your sense of self respect.

Self Confidence – Belief in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities. That which allows us to make choices, to think, to judge, to know and come to decisions. Confidence is built by the successes we experience in life. Small successes built upon smaller successes, lead to a graduated building of confidence. It is important to remember these small successes and forget the failures. We tend to remember the failures and destroy our self confidence by putting ourselves down with them.

Self Acceptance – Being satisfied with one’s attitude and qualities while being aware of one’s limitations and potentials.

Acknowledgement that this is who I am, what I was born with and what I look like. Accepting what I can’t change, change what I can and do what I have to do to be the best that is within me.

Self Esteem – A confidence and satisfaction in oneself. Personal comepetence and personal worth. Self esteem = Self confidence + Self respect. A person with high self esteem is fundamentally satisfied with the type of person they are yet they may acknowledge their faults while hoping to overcome them.

Self Efficacy – People’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives.

Do your definitions match, or differ from what’s listed? Are you surprised at any of these definitions? Also, what aspects of yourself fit into each of these definitions? Reflection as to how these definitions are represented within you can help to clarifying where your issues lie and where your growth is needed.

Lacking motivation, confidence and contentment today.

Some days are good, some days aren’t so great. Today is a day that isn’t so great. I have zero explanation as to why. There doesn’t seem to be a root cause of the issue. It just ‘is what it is’.

Small things are annoying me. The sound of someone chewing. The thumping of the washing machine. The hum of the lawn-mower being run by the man three doors down.

Big things are annoying me even more. The fact that the dog chewed up my Nike’s overnight almost had me in tears. I have a headache that’s causing me to have a hard time seeing straight, and I just can’t to put a smile on my face no matter how hard I try.

I know you have to experience the bad days to appreciate the good days. Well, today isn’t one of the good days, that’s for sure.