How you think affects your emotions, feelings, relationships with others and your overall happiness in life. The way in which you think can lead you to talking yourself into, or out of, certain emotions or behaviors. Your thinking about events that occur in your life often dictates how you feel and act. It can either build a healthy or unhealthy self esteem.
Two people can have the same exact situation happen to them and react to it entirely differently. Losing a job for example can make a person distraught, depressed and angry. Whereas, another person may experience it as a good opportunity to explore other options and eventually find a better job.
If you become aware and recognize your errors in thinking, called cognitive distortions, you are in better shape to change your thinking. Changing your thinking in turn may have a positive impact on both your emotions and your behaviors. Learning to identify and change distortions in thinking can help you overcome negative emotions and enhance your self esteem. Some common distortions of thinking are:
Black and white thinking – this refers to seeing things in all-or-none categories;
Making things worse than they really are – this refers to making “mountains out of molehills”;
Overgeneralizing – this type of thinking is one in which you reach a general conclusion based on a single-experience;
Expecting the worst to happen – ignoring the possible positive outcomes of a situation and focus instead on the negatives….”worst case scenario”;
Ignoring the positive – ignoring and minimizing your achievements, strengths, or positive traits;
Jumping to conclusions –when you react too quickly before having the facts of a situation ….”mind reading”;
Emotional reasoning – this type of distorted thinking happens when you assume that your negative feelings reflect the way things really are;
Should or must statements – rigid rules you set regarding your behavior;
Mislabeling – mislabeling yourself with a negative label. – labeling self a “failure”;
Personalizing – taking responsibility for events and situations that aren’t really your responsibility.
Once you are aware of your particular beliefs and errors in thinking, you are in a better position to take steps to challenge illogical or irrational beliefs or thoughts, or conclusions you reach that are based on insufficient evidence.
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