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Mind Over Misery: Spotting and Stopping Negative Thoughts

Before diving in, a good starting point may be to look at my previous article "Mastering Your Mind: Detecting and Defusing Negative Thoughts" which begins to discuss key components of CBT and teaches how to identify negative thought patterns. After exploring different types of unhelpful thinking, what do we do with that information?

We Examining Thought Accuracy. Once identified, these negative thoughts are examined for accuracy and helpfulness. Often, individuals with anxiety or depression may have distorted or negative thoughts that contribute to their emotional distress.

Being able to ask ourselves “what is evidence this thought is true?” and balance it with the question “what is evidence this thought is not 100% true?” is a great tool to examine the accuracy of a thought. Many times, we stop at because we feel a certain way that thought that correlates with it is true but when we can balance our thoughts and examine it through evidence it helps us to not react just emotionally.

 Next, we Challenging Negative Thoughts. Through CBT, individuals learn to challenge and replace negative or irrational thoughts with more balanced and realistic ones. This process helps in reducing emotional distress and changing behavioral responses.

After examining the thoughts we can challenge them with balancing both evidence- a thought is true and evidence it may not be 100% true and come to a conclusion that holds both thoughts.

For example, if a situation occurred where at a social gathering I saw my friends talking in a circle and I walked up and they stopped talking when I approached them I may feel hurt, confused, or angry. I may have a belief that they must be talking bad about me. If I am able to be aware and name an unhelpful thinking style I would say “I am jumping to conclusions (or mind-reading)” or “I am personalizing and making it about me.” If I ask myself “What is evidence that thought is true that they are talking bad about me?” I may not have evidence unless I heard part of the conversation and overheard my name. If I ask myself “What is evidence that thought is not 100% true that they are talking bad about me?” I might say I didn’t hear the conversation, or they included me in the discussion when I showed up. By sifting through evidence, we can recognize -well there might not be evidence about that thought. So challenging the thought helps us sit with both types of evidence and draw a new conclusion: “I didn’t hear the conversation or I just heard my name AND they included me in a conversation when I walked over. Using “and” makes both statements true and makes our feelings valid while trying to challenge the unhelpful thought.

After we look at Behavioral Strategies. CBT also involves behavioral techniques aimed at changing unhealthy or unhelpful behaviors that may contribute to emotional problems. This may include exposure therapy for phobias or social anxiety, behavioral activation for depression, or relaxation techniques for anxiety.

Combining what we discussed above with strategies to cope such as relaxation and deep breathing help us to pause in the moment when are emotions are heightened and not just react. It helps us to slow down, calm down, and reengage the rational part of our brain.

Lastly, we use Skill Building. CBT teaches specific coping skills and strategies that individuals can use in daily life to manage stress, reduce symptoms, and improve overall well-being.

CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is typically structured and goal-oriented, often involving homework assignments and exercises between therapy sessions to practice new skills and reinforce learning. It is considered one of the most effective forms of therapy for a wide range of psychological disorders, and it can be adapted to meet the specific needs of individuals of different ages and backgrounds.

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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