“Cognitive Distortions- When Your Thoughts Are Hurting You” Part 1

One of the best tools we have for living a healthy life is our ability to think. Our world is composed of a large number of events that happen constantly. Some are positive and some are negative, and most are neutral. We interpret these events as they happen with a series of thoughts that flow continually though our minds. This process is called our internal dialogue. We constantly think about present and past events, and sometimes about things that will happen in the future. And here’s the important point- these thoughts need to be accurate. We need good reality testing in order to live life effectively.

Our moods or feelings are created by the thoughts we have, and not by the actual events themselves. We need to think about events and attach a meaning to them before we experience an emotional response. People have different ways of interpreting the same event. Let’s say our friend, Sophia, has decided to move to a different part of the country. Some people will congratulate her for making a move that could bring her the happiness she has sought for a long time. Other people might condemn her for running away from the life she has here. Some will call her healthy. Some will call her creepy. Some will call her heartless. How we think about Sophia will reflect our core beliefs about the world.

We define Sophia’s actions in terms of how we personally interpret the world- and these interpretations reflect the basic assumptions we have about how the world works. Her move in itself signifies nothing until we think about it and place an interpretation or meaning on it. If we see it as a healthy move on her part, we can have a happy response. If we see her as being selfish, we might have an angry or depressed response to her move. Once we give meaning to an event, we can experience an emotional response to it. In other words, our thoughts can influence how we feel.

To Be Continued…