I help many people try to restructure their thought patterns. As a counselor, I’ve always found hope in others and have helped them find even a shred of faith in themselves. I follow cognitive-behavioral therapy practices, in order to help with depression and anxiety. Often times, people become depressed due to getting overwhelmed by their worries and losing the ability to have hope or cope with their stressors.
When they learn how to reframe their thoughts and challenge them, people get better. The mind controls everything and what we tell ourselves becomes our reality and shows through our feelings and actions. If you’ve been suffering for several weeks or feel hopeless, then please go to or call a local mental health provider for help.
There are common cognitive distortions or dysfunctional ways that we think. We all get them, but they are worse when depressed or are under excessive stress. The thinking distortions that I treat most often are dichotomous or all-or-nothing thinking, catastrophizing, personalizing, negative focus, jumping to conclusions, and living by fixed rules. Dichotomous thinking leaves you with no middle ground, while condemning yourself based on a single event and thinking in extremes. Catastrophizing is about overexaggerating an event and thinking that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Personalizing (“it’s all my fault”) is thinking that everything going wrong is because of you and you’re to blame, even when it probably has not much to do with you. Negative focus is the tendency to find the dark side of things and ignore or misinterpret the positive aspects of you, others, or a situation. Jumping to conclusions or mindreading is when you interpret something as negative, even though you have no definite facts. Living by fixed rules leads to a lot of disappointment and guilt due to having unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others people.
To help yourself, identify the cognitive distortions and challenge them. There is almost always a way to see the light side of things. When fully in despair, a person will need to read something inspiring or speak with someone who is usually an optimist. The best results occur when in the beginning of the thought process versus letting it go on for awhile and then trying to challenge it. Writing is extremely useful to help correct dysfunctional thought patterns. While engaging in this self-care exercise, it’s also important to review your overall health. Assess and attempt to optimize your nutrition, sleep, spiritual needs, and fitness. Never give up on yourself.
I’ll conclude with some examples of dysfunctional thoughts and simple challenges to them:
- He didn’t call me right back and must not care about me.
- He’s probably busy and got distracted. He does care about me, give him some space and have patience.
- I’m a bad mother and a horrible person because I lost my temper.
- I will try to control my temper and work on that, but I’m not a horrible person.
- I’m cursed and will never be happy in life.
- I’m happy about what I accomplished this morning and will go on a run later. I have a lot of blessings in my life.
-Rebecca Perry, LMHC, LMFT