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How to Overcome Cognitive Distortions (Stinkin' Thinkin')

Cognitive distortions are patterns of biased or irrational thinking that can contribute to negative emotions and behavior. Overcoming these distortions involves recognizing and challenging them to develop more realistic and balanced perspectives. Here are steps to help you overcome cognitive distortions:

  1. Awareness and Identification: Recognize when you are experiencing negative emotions or thoughts. Pay attention to your thought patterns and try to identify the cognitive distortions you might be using.

  2. Educate Yourself: Learn about different types of cognitive distortions and how they manifest. Understanding them will help you recognize them more effectively.

  3. Challenge Your Thoughts: Examine the evidence for and against your negative thoughts. Ask yourself if there's another way to interpret the situation. Look for alternative explanations that are more balanced and realistic.

  4. Reality Testing: Ask yourself if your thoughts are based on facts or assumptions. Consider whether you have concrete evidence to support your beliefs, and if not, reevaluate the validity of your thoughts.

  5. Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation: Practice mindfulness to increase your awareness of the present moment and observe your thoughts without judgment. Mindfulness can help you detach from cognitive distortions and develop a more objective perspective.

  6. Challenge Catastrophizing and Fortune Telling: Stop jumping to the worst-case scenario or predicting negative outcomes without evidence. Instead, consider a range of possible outcomes, including more positive ones.

  7. Practice Positive Affirmations: Counter negative thoughts with positive affirmations or statements. Repeat them regularly to reinforce positive thinking and challenge negative self-talk.

  8. Seek Professional Help: Consider working with a therapist, counselor, or coach who specializes in helping people overcome their default patterns of thinking.

  9. Journaling: Keep a thought journal to record your thoughts, emotions, and situations that trigger them. Analyze these entries to identify patterns of distorted thinking and work on challenging them.

  10. Gratitude Practice: Cultivate a habit of gratitude by regularly reflecting on the positive aspects of your life. This can help shift your focus from negative thoughts to a more positive and balanced outlook.

  11. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a good friend. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you work to change your thought patterns.

Remember, overcoming cognitive distortions takes time and effort. Consistent practice and a willingness to challenge and change your thought patterns will help you develop a more balanced and realistic mindset. If you find it challenging to do this on your own, consider seeking guidance from a professional.

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