Distorted Thinking

Sometimes nothing gets more in the way of achieving goals and feeling good than our own thinking.  Psychologists recognize this and have come with a list of common distorted thoughts and a few strategies for beating them.

They are as follows:


We have all been guilty of these kinds of thoughts at one time or another the question is: Do they interfere with normal functioning? That’s a question only you and perhaps a professional (doctor, psychologist…etc.) can answer. However recognizing them is the first step and then beating them is second and psychologists have laid out some strategies for this:

  1. Examine The Evidence: Does a thorough examination of the evidence support your conclusion?
  2. The Double Standard Method: Would you talk to a loved one the same way you are talking to yourself? What would you say to a friend in your situation?
  3. Thinking In Shades of Grey: Evaluate things on a scale of 1-100 and not as all or nothing . This way we also see a setback as a partial success.
  4. Survey Method: Ask people you trust if your thoughts on a particular situation are valid.
  5. Definitions: What exactly does ‘failure’ or ‘loser’ or other negative label actually mean? Asking yourself what a negative label means helps us see that it is usually a specific behaviour(s) that is making us feel that way. We also start realize these labels are inherently meaningless.
  6. Re-attribution: Instead of blaming ourselves we should examine what external factors played into a setback or bad situation. It is often not entirely one person’s fault.
  7. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Listing the benefits and drawback of thoughts, behaviours and emotions in a given situation. Weighing whether or not that thought, behaviour or emotion is valid. Sample worksheet:

This approach is called Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy and is based on the idea that your thinking controls your moods and not vice versa. It was popularized by Dr David Burns in his  Feeling Good Handbook. Since then people have identified as many as 20 or more types of distorted thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy is worth taking a look at when you’re feeling down or frustrated as it could get your back on your feet again.

Some Free Sites


Lean To Live

Apps: (apple and Android)


SAM: Self Help for Anxiety Management





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