Negative thoughts trigger negative feelings

Posted on June 28, 2018 · Posted in CBT Therapy

“Men are disturbed not by things, but RATHER by the view OF which they take of them”.

CBT considers that it is our thoughts that create our feelings….

This is why 2 people can experience exactly the same life event or circumstance and YET have 2 completely different emotional reactions.

How is Anxiety Created?

Short answer….. we create it ourselves…. By our thinking and our beliefs.

In a real crisis or emergency, we do not have time to worry, we react instinctively, it is our mental processes that create anxiety, when we have time to forecast future events in a negative way.

In the same way that scripts for horror movies and books can be created by talented authors, we can create scary movies in our imagination!

BUT! They are JUST scary movies, they have NOT happened! We just lock onto “what if”!

ALL such scary movies, are made from a thinking distortion or a combination of thinking distortions.

What Are Thinking Distortions?


Type Definition Example
Black or white Viewing situations, people, or yourself as entirely bad or entirely good—nothing in between. When Margo brought her vegetable salad to the neighborhood potluck, a hostess commented, “That’s our third salad.” Margo immediately thought, “She’s criticizing me. She doesn’t like me.”
Exaggerating Making self-critical or other-critical statements that include terms like never, nothing, every­thing, or always. John was accidentally overlooked when coworkers joined to make plans for lunch together. John thought, “They never ask me to do anything. Nobody wants me around here.”
Filtering Ignoring the positive things that occur to and around self but focusing on and accentuating the negative. Kathy had her hair cut short and styled differently. After receiving several compliments from friends and family, one person was mildly critical. Kathy thought, “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten it cut short. I look like a freak. People are laugh­ing at me.”
Discounting Rejecting positive experiences as not being important or meaningful. Kyle was complimented by his boss for his good work on a project. He thought, “Anybody could have done that. She doesn’t know any­thing about this project and I didn’t do anything special with it.”
Catastrophizing Blowing expected consequences out of proportion in a negative direction. The teacher told Margo that her son was struggling a bit with math. Margo thought, “This is awful. Johnny is going to fail. I knew I should have worked with him more.”
Judging Being critical of self or others with a heavy emphasis on the use of should have, ought to, must, have to, and should not have. Jenny made a sales presentation to a client. The client was very attentive and made comments about being impressed with the product. Jenny

thought, “He knows I stumbled over my words. I should have been more prepared. I have to be more relaxed or no client will ever buy from me.”

Type Definition Example
Mind reading Making negative assumptions regarding other people’s thoughts and motives. Alan inquired about a transfer to a new department. When he was told the position was already filled, he thought, “This manager never did like me. He knew I wanted that position but he just ignored me.”
Forecasting Predicting events will turn out badly. Megan just finished an important job interview. She immediately pre­dicted that she would not get hired. “I’ll never get this job. That inter­view was awful and I’m sure I blew it,” she thought.
Feelings are facts Because you feel a certain way, reality is seen as fitting that feeling. John did not have plans for activity with any friends for the weekend. He felt lonely and inferior. He thought, “No one likes me. I have a terrible personality.”
Labeling Calling self or others a bad name when displeased with a behavior. Joanne had a disagreement with her friend about where to meet for lunch. Joanne thought, “Betty is such a controller. She never listens to anyone and insists on always get­ting her own way.”
Self-blaming Holding self responsible for an outcome that was not under one’s control. Patty’s friend had a minor traffic accident while she and Patty were riding to the mall. Patty thought, “This accident was my fault. I should not have been talking to Jessie while we were driving. Even though that other car hit us, I’m sure Jessie could have avoided it if I would have kept my mouth shut.”

It is important to try to replace negative, distorted thoughts with positive, more realis­tic thoughts that can help you feel more at ease. Each time, you find yourself falling into one of the distortions above consider  a positive thought that you could have used to make you feel better.

Contact us now for an appointment to become more skilled at doing this.

This page was written by Mr T. Roberts of Online Counseling Fast. .