My Thinking is Broken

I’ve been depressed a fair amount in my life.

Some of it I put down to simple bad wiring. My brain picked up a pattern of firing somewhere, and those faulty signals were reinforced.

But a lot of my negative thoughts I attribute to incorrect thinking. These thoughts are due to assumptions and other heuristics my brain uses as shortcuts to make sense of the world. My perception of reality is often colored, and I’m completely clueless that I’m wearing negative shades.

According to Feeling Good, these thoughts are cognitive distortions. Here are the 10 distortions Dr. Burns describes:

  • All-or-Nothing Thinking
  • Overgeneralization
  • Mental Filter
  • Disqualifying the Positive
  • Jumping to Conclusions
    • Fortune Telling
    • Mind Reading
  • Magnification and Minimization
  • Emotional Reasoning
  • Should Statements
  • Labeling and Mislabeling
  • Personalization

You’ll have to read the book for more information on each of these, but, for me at least, just knowing that these exist are the key to correcting my thinking.

For example, I often wonder if someone doesn’t like me based on their behavior. But knowing about the Mind Reading fallacy allows me to step outside that thought pattern. I really have no clue unless I ask them.

In You Are Not Your Brain, the author recategorizes these distortions and adds a few of his own:

  • All-or-Nothing (Black-or-White) Thinking
  • Catastrophizing (Fortune-telling or Worst-case Scenario Thinking)
  • Discounting The Positive
  • Emotional Reasoning
  • Mind Reading
  • “Should” Statements
  • False Expectations
  • Faulty Comparisons

Knowing these distortions changes my life! Knowing that I’m not a complete failure because I made a simple mistake makes it easier to regain my composure. Just because someone else is able to complete a task doesn’t mean I “should.”

I can keep an even keel and stay balanced, just by remembering a few principles.

How can I take action on this?

It’s easy to forget the distortions. I’ve read recently that the best way to remember things is to repeat them periodically at different intervals. Tonight I downloaded Anki and input the cognitive biases as cards in the system. Over the next few days, I’ll be reviewing them.

But if I forget, I won’t think of myself as a complete failure 🙂


2 thoughts on “My Thinking is Broken

  1. One very helpful tip is to repeat all of those every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed! By beginning and ending your day with making the effort to remind yourself that your self-worth is greater than you believe, life will open up endless opportunities that can be seized!!! I am happy that you are making progress towards your well-being. This shows the potential positive impacts you can make in society! Keep up the great work !!!


    • There’s a whole rotating list of things that I would like to remember but don’t. I’m thinking of using these 10 things as a starting point, but adding other inspirational truths and self reminders to the list, just so they stay at the front of my brain.


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