4. Mental Filter
Have you ever heard of the expression that “people see their glass as half empty rather than half full?” This is a kind of negative thinking called “Mental Filter.” It is a type of cognitive distortion that frequently leads to increased levels of depression.
Those who have this type of negative thinking pattern will only see the negative aspects of their life, even if there are plenty of positive things to be grateful for. You will simply filter out all the positive parts of your life and only focus on the negative ones.
For instance, as a couple, if you are fighting and you tend to think about how terrible your partner is. You blame them for not being as they were before. You pick out their negatives and filter all the positive aspects about them.
Personalization is one of the biggest factors that can lead to depression. It’s when you hold yourself responsible for every negative thing that happens (even if it’s not related to you at all), it’s known as personalization. You keep on blaming yourself for things that you didn’t do and are not responsible for.
Another example, you as a student believe that all hypothetical examples given by your college professor have been purposely directed towards you.
It is quite common among adults as well as children who believe that they have either been ignored and attacked.
6. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization
Magnification or Minimization refers to the cognitive distortion that involves perceiving the good outcomes of your actions as smaller than they are and the bad outcomes as larger than they are.
Sometimes you tend to amplify (magnify) the positive traits of others while reducing (minimising) your achievements and contributions, leading to depressive thoughts, anxiety or stress.
For instance, you are hoping to get good grades but you end up getting average results. You will see yourself as a total failure (magnification; exaggerate the negative).
Another instance, when you get good grades but believe that it was by fluke and it doesn’t mean you are actually smart (minimization; understatement of the positive).
7. Emotional Reasoning
Emotional reasoning is when an individual determines that their emotional reaction proves something is true without any proof. Emotional reasoning generates an ‘emotional truth,’ which may be directly opposed to reality.
For instance, you believe that your spouse is cheating on you based on your own assumptions. You are unable to express your thoughts to them and reason with yourself that your emotions are right. Therefore, you jump to conclusions and make hasty decisions.
This inability to be positive about oneself and the emergence of negative ideas are the underlying causes of depression.
8. Jumping to Conclusions
The problem with this form of cognitive distortion is that it almost always has a negative outcome. You probably think this way, because you might have had a traumatic experience in your past, or have had several negative experiences, which has made you pessimistic and distrusting. You jump to negative conclusions, without having sufficient information, and then beat yourself up by telling yourself that everything is your fault.
For instance, you come to the conclusion that your teacher doesn’t like you or thinks badly of you because of the way she looks at you.
Trauma frequently leads to depression, therefore, to protect yourself in the future, you tend to picture the worst-case scenarios in every incident. This is because you do not want to be caught off guard again.
Steps on How to Change Negative Thinking Patterns
With appropriate help and guidance, you will be able to tackle these negative thinking patterns and deal with your depression and self-deprecating thoughts. Here are some measures you should take to help improve negative thinking patterns:
Determine the thoughts that trouble you.
The first step in identifying what is triggering your depression or anxiety is to determine what type of negative thinking is taking place. If you wish to learn more about how to gain a better understanding of how your thoughts influence your emotions and actions.
Negative thoughts usually have the following characteristics:
These are automatic thoughts, which means they will come to you without much thought.
- They can be distorted, which means they are not always incorrect, but they are also not based on facts.
- They can be harmful, as it influences how you feel and behave, making negative thoughts difficult to get out of your head.
- They are usually believable, you will accept them as facts and will not question them.
- They can be intrusive, which means that the thoughts can become disturbing over time and lead to depression or anxiety disorders
There are various forms of help you can receive from articles, videos or online webinars. Try to read books by experts like Dr David Clark on how to overcome negative thoughts.