I had just come home from college and saw my dad grumpy. I wished him hello only to be ignored. I felt like he was mad at me because I had done something. There began an explosion of thoughts in my head and I thought of every silly and mischievous thing I did in the past one month. It occurred to me as if he had found out about one of those things which is why he was angry with me! I spent the next hour panicking. Later, I came to know that he was grumpy because of a rough day at work. What a relief that was!! 

Have you ever found yourself in such a situation? (Happens to me all the time!)

If you answered yes…then let me tell you that most of the time this thought process is a trap laid by your mind to make you believe the negative stuff! 

This means the majority of the times, your negative thoughts are proven wrong and you see yourself worrying too much unnecessarily! 

This thinking pattern is commonly called a trap because once such a train of thought begins in our head, it becomes unstoppable and it makes everything seem negative and like the end of the world when there’s nothing to worry at all! It is like an illusion. 

And this example I mentioned here is just one of the many thinking traps that we come across in our lives. They are called cognitive distortions. 

Let’s know more about them today!

So cognitive distortions are thought patterns that are irrational and exaggerated that usually occur in times of difficulty and uncertainty. They influence us to perceive reality in a biased way (mostly negative). These distortions could in greater magnitude indicate deteriorating mental health. Sometimes they could also be triggers for issues like depression and anxiety. There are many thinking distortions that we fall into different situations. Here are a few.

  1. Over Generalizing: This is one common thought distortion that we all have experienced one time or the other. Overgeneralizing is about attributing a quality to something or someone based on a single experience or evidence. I would do this a lot back in high school. I once had a bad experience writing an exam of a subject and felt miserable about it. Thereon, I began to hate that subject very much because it felt to me like every time I wrote an exam it would only be bad and nothing else! Here, we mostly see one bad event and brand even the future experiences of it being negative.
  2. Emotional Reasoning: We as human beings feel various emotions for a variety of things in our surroundings. But not everything we feel is always right or always wrong. For instance, you meet a person for the first time and they are a tad reserved. How would you feel about that person? Cold, unreceptive, rude, and arrogant would be some natural responses. So you begin to assume that the person is unreceptive and rude while the fact is that maybe they just take some time to warm up to people and are friendly and nice to have around! When we try to reason things emotionally, we tend to believe in things unconditionally and think that “it must be true because I feel that way”.
  3. Catastrophizing: In this thinking trap the person begins to believe that a disaster will strike at them at any cost due to some reason which is generally really small for everyone else but them! We could compare this to something like a child who feels so anxious about not bringing something that the teacher asked to bring. The child feels so bad about not doing that thing and begins to think that he will be punished very severely or maybe even removed from the school. It might sound funny but we see this happen a lot frequently with kids where they insist on buying something but don’t get it.
  4. Filtering: Filtering is one attribute that we see very often in people who struggle with self-esteem issues. They might have 10 good qualities and 3 bad ones but they are always emphasizing the negative ones and feeling dreadful about it. It is a kind of pessimism. Filtering is like wearing red-tinted glasses and assuming that the entire world looks red! Here, people magnify the unfavorable factors while just turning a blind eye to everything else.
  5. Personalizing: Personalizing is a thought distortion where the person holds themselves responsible for everything that goes wrong around them even if they are no way related to it. It could also be like the person always thinks that everything people say or feel is coolly directed at them. It is something similar to the example I mentioned at the beginning where I thought my dad was angry because I did something but the actual reason had nothing to do with me! It is basically a feeling of insecurity.

While these are common thoughts we all experience here and there in our daily lives, fact remains that more often than not, they turn out to be false and futile. They mostly add up to the stress and tension of a moment and create uncertainty over everything. 

Once we get into thinking that way about anything, sometimes there seems no end to the negative thinking and it’s only a downward spiral. It is only a trap that we don’t want to fall into.

Such thought processes, in the long run, are “not so good” for our mental health as they build up to worry and anxiety even over petty things. 

The knowledge of these things could be helpful because next time you find yourself feeling this way, you could probably hold on and assess for yourself the reality of the situation before panicking in vain. It could save you from so much redundant anxiety. 

Well, these thought traps were only a few to name but there are so many more of these! 

Do let me know in the comments section if you’d like to know more and I’d love to write another post on this topic! 

I hope you found this interesting and of some use to you. Thank you very much for reading through this! 

I’ll see you next Sunday with another interesting post like this. 

Until then…Toodles! 

Written by: admin

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