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Mastering Your Mind: Detecting and Defusing Negative Thoughts

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy also known as CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is based on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions about situations influence how we feel emotionally and how we behave. The goal of CBT is to identify and change patterns of thinking or behavior that are causing or contributing to emotional difficulties, such as anxiety or depression. I use CBT often in my practice as I’ve found it to be a tangible way clients can work through various situations of life they are experiencing that is causing them difficulties.

The key components of CBT start with Identifying Thought Patterns. CBT helps individuals become aware of their automatic thoughts—those thoughts that pop into their mind in response to certain situations or triggers.

There are different types of unhelpful thinking:

1. Catastrophizing (Magnification) & minimization: Assuming the worst possible outcome will happen, even without evidence to support it. Blowing things out of proportion or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important.

2. Black-and-White Thinking (All-or-Nothing Thinking): Seeing things as either all good or all bad, with no middle ground or shades of gray. "If I'm not perfect I have failed" "Either I do it right or not at all."

3. Overgeneralization: Drawing broad conclusions based on a single event or piece of evidence. For example, "I failed this test, so I'm a failure at everything."

4. Jumping to conclusions: Mind Reading: Assuming you know what others are thinking without sufficient evidence. This can lead to misinterpretation of social interactions and unnecessary worry.

AND Fortune telling: umping to Conclusions: Making assumptions without evidence-predicting negative outcomes without evidence.

5. Disqualifying the Positive: Minimizing or dismissing positive experiences, qualities, or achievements, and focusing only on the negative aspects. "That doesn't count."

6. Emotional Reasoning: Believing that your emotions reflect reality. For example, "I feel stupid, so I must be stupid."

7. Mental filter: Only paying attention to certain types of evidence. Noticing our failures but not seeing our successes.

8. Personalization: Taking responsibility for events that are outside of your control, or attributing external events to yourself when there is no basis for it. "This is my fault."

9. Should Statements: Setting rigid rules or expectations for yourself or others, and feeling guilty or frustrated when these expectations are not met. Using critical words like 'should' or 'must'.

10. Labeling: Assigning global, negative labels to yourself or others based on specific behaviors or experiences ("I'm a loser" or "They're a jerk").

Being able to identify the type of unhelpful thoughts and build awareness around them helps us to name them and make changes in those thoughts. We can’t change if we aren’t even aware of what we are doing.

To learn more about what to do once you've identified these thoughts check out my next blog "Mind Over Misery: Spotting and Stopping Negative Thoughts".

If you want to find out more about CBT, speak with someone who can help you work through negative thoughts or behaviors, and make positive changes in your life please reach out! You can contact me at or call (657) 224-3462 to get started with therapy today!



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