By Ariel Kruemcke, LPC
Challenging Irrational Thoughts – I’m sure everyone at one point or another has had an irrational thought. These are called cognitive distortions. These thoughts may not always be false, but typically they are coming from a place that is not grounded in reality. It’s natural for us to make assumptions and try to organize the world around us so that we can try to understand it. The problem with this is when we start feeding into them too often it can hurt our relationships and our mindset on ourselves and our environment.
So how do we challenge these thoughts? The first step to any change is going to be becoming aware that we are doing it. This may be difficult when it is a pattern that has built up over a long period of time. However, thinking more critically about our thoughts is possible. One way we can start to challenge thoughts is by asking ourselves more about that thought. Where did this thought come from? Do I have previous experiences that are similar to this situation that make me assume this is true? Do I have evidence to back up this thought? Why is this where my mind goes when a situation like this arises? How do I feel when I have this thought?
These cognitive distortions can sometimes be a way of protecting ourselves from getting hurt because we are preparing for the worst. Over time, feeding into these negative thoughts can really start to affect us and become a habit. One thing to try is to start focusing more on gratitude on a regular basis. Putting yourself in a more positive mindset can often cause the more negative thoughts to have less of an impact.