Reduce anxiety and depression by challenging common cognitive distortions

Have you ever caught yourself knowing for sure what someone else is thinking? If so, read on this one’s for you!

Unless you possess some sort of “other worldly powers” that may land you on the X-Men team, I’m pretty sure you don’t think you can actually read someone else’s mind. But, why do we constantly try? For example, after an interview you may think  “I messed up, they think I’m not smart enough for the job” or you are out in public and get an unpleasant look from a passerby and find yourself automatically thinking she/he is reacting negatively towards you.

When we find ourselves “mind reading,” a great question to ask ourselves is why do we think other people are thinking such terrible things?  And why am I center stage? When we are feeling down, it may be easy to feel angry or upset, ruminating over a past conversation, interaction, or a look someone gave us. These ruminating thoughts typically result in the continuance of adding false “evidence” to our already compromised sense of self.

Many people have learned to adopt a balanced perspective throughout their lives and quickly realize that they have fallen into a thinking trap and remind themselves of the truth,  “Hey brain, I can’t actually read minds!”  For others, this skill does not come easily, but it can certainly be developed.  

You can start this process yourself by putting your thoughts on trial!  

  • Take the role of a “truthful judge” and collect an equal amount of evidence both for and against why you believe someone has _________ thought about you.
  • Afterwards, reflect on a balanced, neutral “verdict” that incorporates only specific, factual proof (not one based on interpretation or speculation).
  • It takes time to re-route your thoughts, so make sure to be kind to yourself throughout this process! Remember that merely developing the awareness that you have fallen into a “thinking trap,” in and of itself, is half the battle!

If you’d like to talk with one of our therapists about thinking traps, please reach out!

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