Avoid Depression And Anxiety—Don’t Believe Everything You Think!
“People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them”- Epictetus AD 55 – AD135
If I think something it must be true
Unfortunately many people believe that if their brain thinks something it must be factual. But there are many different ways to see the same situation and depending on the viewpoint we take, we can determine our mood.
For example one boy is told he will be given a gift and is taken to a room filled with manure. The boy says, “Well this is the kind of gift, I would get—life always treats me unfairly,” and he walks away in disgust. Another boy is told the same information and taken to the same room. Only this lad squeals with delight and says, “Hand me a shovel, with this much manure, there must be a pony here somewhere!”
Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?
An identical event triggers two different responses depending on the view taken by the participant. Do you sometimes perceive events in a way similar to the boy who felt life treated him unfairly? If so you may see life’s events through a negative filter; you may be guilty of thinking errors.
To avoid depression and anxiety, we can benefit from occasional reviewing thinking errors to see if our perceptions are distorted. Laura Brown, LCSW, summarized her thoughts on thinking errors.
Common Thinking Errors
- All or Nothing Thinking: A situation or person is either all good or all bad. Things are black or white. For example if your performance falls short of perfection, you see yourself as a total failure. For more on black and white thinking, see my blog post: http://www.utahmentalhealthservices.com/concerns/depression/
- Overgeneralization: A single negative event is viewed as a never- ending pattern of defeat. Key words use are always, all the time, never when describing your and others’ behavior.
- Mental Filter: One single negative detail becomes overwhelming. Reality is distorted and you dwell on the event exclusively. It is like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
- Disqualifying the Positive: Experiences are rejected because of the belief they don’t count for some reason or another. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
- Jumping to Conclusions: A negative interpretation is made even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
- Mind Reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and you don’t bother to check out the facts.
- Fortune Telling: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and you are convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches:
Feelings are indicators of our emotions but sometimes our thinking is distorted
Often distressed feelings are a signal your thinking may be distorted. Begin noticing and analyzing your thoughts. Likely you will see some errors in your thinking or perceptions. If you have thinking errors or if life always seems to be a roomful of manure, you likely struggle with anger management, depression or anxiety. You may benefit by contacting a local therapist.
(A good example of not believing everything you think is the 2001 movie “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard. It is a biographical drama based on the true story of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics who struggles with mental illness. Nash has to learn how to cope and not believe everything his brain tells him.)
Camille Curtis Foster/ 801.472.7134/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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Check out another one of my posts concerning depression and anxiety:
Check out my post on anxiety: http://www.utahmentalhealthservices.com/concerns/anxiety/
Another post for good mental health habits:
Sources: Laura Brown, LCSW http://whatwouldlaurasay.blogspot.com/2010/06/have-you-ever-heard-of-thinking-error.html Image from https://www.facebook.com/sungazing1