Depression, anxiety, or just chronically not feeling good affects a lot of people. It can be difficult to cope with negative feelings. There are many things you can do to support good mental health, including healthy hobbies, healthy coping strategies and increasing resilience. One way to defend your mental health is choosing realistic, positive thoughts.
It’s not about telling yourself everything is rainbows and butterflies. It’s about thinking more clearly. Twisted, negative thoughts are referred to as cognitive distortions. These common thoughts are logically unsound and not based in reality. Fixing negative thoughts will be most effective if you replace irrational, negative thoughts with accurate, realistic thoughts. Those thoughts will automatically be more positive, because they won’t be warped with unnecessary negativity.
Here are a few common cognitive distortions. They are commonly referred to as Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs. Take a look and see if any of them sound familiar.
Automatic Negative Thoughts to Challenge
Can you identify with any of these types of thoughts? Most people can. While they are common, they are distorted thoughts, not reality. If you are feeling down or anxious, try writing down your thoughts. Getting them out on paper can help stop them from swirling around in your head indefinitely.
Once you write them down, see if you can identify the type of negative thought you are having. Then, try writing a more realistic thought about the situation, and see how that makes you feel. After you have some practice, you can skip the step of identifying exactly what type of negatively twisted thought you are having, and just try replacing the negative thought with a more realistic one.
“No one likes me.”
Thought type: Overgeneralization.
Realistic thought: “A lot of people like me, but not everyone does. That’s normal and true for everybody.”
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