What comes first, thinking or feeling?
What we think affects how we feel. If we have healthy thinking, we feel better. If we have negative thinking and self-talk, we will have negative emotions.
In a recent study on resilience, I learned about the following 10 unhealthy thinking patterns or thinking distortions. The research was pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck, widely regarded as the father of cognitive therapy. It was later popularized by Dr. David Bums in his book “The feeling good handbook.”
- Extreme thinking (All-or-nothing thinking) – Thinking in absolute terms, like “always” and “never.”
- Overgeneralization – Taking isolated cases and using them to make generalization.
- Mental filter – Focusing on negative aspects of an event while ignoring the positive.
- Disqualifying the positive – Continually “shooting down” positive experiences for arbitrary reasons.
- Jumping to conclusions – Based on little or no evidence, mind-reading (assuming special knowledge of the intentions or thoughts of others), fortune telling (predicting without special knowledge).
- Magnification and minimization – Distorted thinking that twists facts, exaggerating the positive traits of others and magnifying your own negatives.
- Emotional reasoning – Decisions based on intuitions or personal feelings rather than on objective facts and evidence.
- Should statements – Thoughts focused on “should” or “ought to be” rather than reality, having rigid rules which “always apply” no matter what.
- Labeling and mislabeling – Explaining by naming with “absolute labels (loser, bossy, shy, perfect, cheater, wishy-washy.)
- Personalization – Assuming responsibility foe events over which you have no control, magical thinking.
If we pay attention to what we think and how we self talk, we can recognize the unhealthy thinking that’s going on inside of us which affects how we feel.
If we want to feel better, we need to think better by making true and fair statements to ourselves to replace untrue or unfair statements.