The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

Realistic Thinking: Distorted Cognitions

Through my years of counseling practice, I have noticed that a major mental health issue has been what's called "cognitive distortions." These are thoughts that include all or nothing thinking, catastrophizing, focusing on what you should have done in the past, etc. They are not realistic ways to think of yourself or situations. These distortions can be very common with depression, anxiety, stress, OCD, and a mulititude of other mental health diagnoses. Particularly in a world where the pressure is on to be bigger, better, and faster, it makes sense that feeling this way has increased through time.

I you feel you are experiencing unrealistic thinking, and it is interfering with your life, it would probably be helpful to take a look at this link which details out the different types of "cognitive distortions." See if any fit for you:

If you fit into any of the categories at that website, it may be helpful for you to seek assistance in gaining control by seeing a counselor, therapist, or a life coach. There are also techiniques and workbooks to utilize in managing it on your own.  I would recommend the following:

1) Recognizing a cognitive distortion, writing it down. Ask yourself, is this a realistic thought? If not, change it into a statement that IS realistic. (i.e. "I always mess up- could be changed to "I messed up, but I have learned from my mistakes in the past.")

2) Positive Self-Talk- I have probably harped on this topic a number of times in my previous blog articles. I can't stress enough how important it is to be kind to yourself.

3) Check out this book: How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by John C. Maxwell

4) Journal!!! Track when you're most having these cognitive distortions- it will help you see if there are particular situations, times of day/weeks/months that it's happening, a certain person triggering it, etc.

Remember, change can be scary and difficult, but it is necessary to live your life to its fullest potential- especially if you are having a difficult time seeing things clearly.

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