If you have ever struggled with depression, then you’ll be no stranger to negative and intrusive thoughts.
These are those uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts that get stuck in your brain and just won’t go away.
Intrusive Thoughts That Make You Worry
“What if this is a terrible idea?” or “What if something goes wrong?” or “What if everyone thinks I’m an idiot?”
Intrusive Thoughts That Make You Feel Worthless.
Thought like: “I’m a loser” or “I’m unlovable” or “I’m a failure”
Intrusive Thoughts That Make You Feel Hopeless.
Example: “Things will never get better” or “I’ll always be anxious and depressed” or “I’ll never have what I want in life”
Understanding Negative Thoughts
However, as common as these intrusive thoughts are, a lot of people don’t realise that there are a variety of ways to stop them from raging war on your mind and to free yourself from them.
One of the strategies to help people free themselves from negative and intrusive thoughts is to highlight them as cognitive distortions.
Cognitive Distortions are not inherently a problem in and of themselves.
However, they can become a big problem if you listen to them and then believe them.
Overcoming Negative Thoughts
In order to do this, the next time you have a negative or intrusive thought, instead of blindly accepting it as reality, simply ask yourself whether or not it’s one of the following ‘cognitive distortions’.
To do this you will firstly need to recognise that these intrusive thoughts are simply cognitive distortions. Or, in other words, they’re inaccurate, exaggerated, irrational, and/or negatively biased perceptions of your true reality – as opposed to being indicative of reality itself.
To help you recognise this kind of thinking here are some examples of Cognitive Distortions
Mental Filter: Where you see only the negative aspects of a situation while dismissing any positive aspects.
Catastrophising: Where you blow something out of proportion – whether that something be in the past or in the future.
Minimisation: Where you downplay the importance of a factor that is critical to the situation focused on.
Labelling: Where you apply a negative label to yourself, someone else, or a situation without acknowledging a variety of other factors that may be at play.
Emotional Reasoning: Where you let your feelings about a situation or an event overrule the facts or other points of view that are in opposition to this.
Personalisation: Where you take personal responsibility for events which aren’t in your control.
Overgeneralisation: Where you make broad, big-picture conclusions about something based on very little information.
All-or-Nothing Thinking: Where you view something as either one extreme or the other – instead of having a more balanced, accurate perspective.
Should/Must Statements: Where you have fixed, concrete rules about something for yourself and/or others.
If your intrusive thoughts are one or more of these cognitive distortions (and they usually always are), then that proves that rather than being true, your intrusive thoughts are actually a falsehood.
Once you’re aware of this, then it becomes much, much easier for you to dismiss the intrusive thought and kick it out of your mind – rather than accepting it as fact and then feeling anxious or depressed as a result.
The editor (Rambling in Pen) leaves you now with the following observations.
Please be aware that in psychology Cognitive Thinking isn’t the same as cognitive distortions or Critical Thinking.
No, because cognitive thinking also includes remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating, and creating. In other words – Critical Thinking.
Reducing stress, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep are crucial for making sure your brain is healthy, getting plenty of oxygen, and able to sort through your memories each and every night.
During the day, you can exercise your brain with ‘cognitive simulations, thinking aloud, and concept mapping in order to improve the higher-order of your cognitive thinking.
To ensure you’re actively improving your cognitive thinking techniques always consider the above questions prior to making decisions.
Now, banish those negative and intrusive thoughts to the folder marked junk and go enjoy the wonders of your magnificent mind.
Peace and Tranquility.
Author: Michael W
Edited by: Rambling in Pen
Music by: Madeline
Special thanks to
The Depression Project