How Our Thoughts Can Make Us Depressed, Anxious, Angry…

How Our Thoughts Can Make Us Depressed, Anxious, Angry…

Consider the Word Distort

Have you ever started a day feeling amazing and then something happens that makes you feel depressed, anxious, angry and you just want to ________________(fill in the blank)? I know I have and many times when I look back or talk with friends it seems like it wasn’t nearly that big of a deal. I may have misunderstood something a friend said, felt like I didn’t do a great job on a project, or did something to embarrass myself in front of others. When I looked back on these events I discovered a common theme … Distortion. My perspective of myself, others and their intentions were Distorted.

When I imagine the word Distorted I think of going through a circus fun house and seeing those mirrors that completely distort your body. It’s as if your body is twisted and construed in weird and unusual ways. Some mirrors cause you to appear short and wide and maybe even wavy, while others stretch you long. It’s easy to recognize that those mirrors don’t accurately represent your body or features.

Now shift your focus to your thought life and how your thoughts may become distorted like the images in the mirrors. The difference is that you perceive them as true or accurate because you are thinking about them and can’t visibly see the distortion. The thought came from you, so of course you believe it to be true. This can often cause issues in how we relate or respond to others. Our perceptions are built on previous experiences, which become our reality. So if someone reacted negatively toward you in your past, you may have a preconceived idea that others will do the same in the future. And thus, a cognitive distortion is born.

What are Cognitive Distortions?

According to the website, a cognitive distortion is an irrational thought that can influence your emotion. When you have a distorted thought you will act on that thought as though it were real. You do this because it feels and looks real and true to you based on the distortion. your behavior or reaction to stimulation. We all experience cognitive distortions, but they can become problematic when we allow them to go unchecked.

Examples of Cognitive Distortions?

Magnification and Minimization: The idea that something holds greater weight than it actually does is a magnification, for example, “I’m the worst!” A minimization is making something seem like “It’s no big deal” ,or “They stole my purse but it’s fine, they must have needed it more than me.” I’ve noticed that hospitals or doctors offices utilize minimization often to help the patients feel more comfortable about a scary procedure. This can be helpful in those settings, but when it comes to your personal feelings, be mindful of ways you may minimize your experiences. The opposite can happen as well when we magnify them and “blow things out of proportion.”

Catastrophizing: The thought that the absolute worst-case-scenario will come true. We will talk more about how to challenge these distorted thoughts.

Overgeneralization: Common phrases used when overgeneralizing are “always”, “never”, “every”, etc.

Magical Thinking: This is the idea that because you follow the rules or are a “good person” bad things won’t happen to you. Its not based in reality. I find this to be something I’ve struggled with before, especially as a Christian. I’ve thought, “I’m a Believer, I trust God, and do what’s right, why are bad things happening to me? Why isn’t life easier?”

Personalization: This happens when you take responsibility for or ownership of another person’s feelings. For example, your spouse responds negatively to you and you think “if I do everything right and perfect, they will be happier.” This thought process does not serve you, or them, well and we will talk about how to challenge it.

Jumping to Conclusions, Mind Reading, Fortune Telling: These distortions are filled with assumptions and can rob you of opportunity for good and pleasurable things. For example, “I’m not going to apply for that job because I already know that someone else better will get it.” Another example is “They didn’t say hi, they must be mad at me.”

Emotional Reasoning: This cognitive distortion gives to much power to your feelings. For example, “I feel like I am a bad wife, therefore, I AM a bad wife.” Feelings come and go, although we need to pay attention to them, they are not facts. Feelings make great informants but terrible masters.

Disqualifying the Positive: This is actively ignoring or disqualifying positive things someone says about you. It tends to come from insecurities or the inability to believe that someone sees good in you.

“Should” Statements: These can get us in trouble, because they are riddled with unrealistic expectations that no one is capable of meeting. For example, “I should always be happy.”

All-or-Nothing Thinking: This type of thinking keeps you stuck in absolutes, when often life is full of gray in-betweens. All or nothing thinking sees the world in terms of black and white; yes and no.

How Do Cognitive Distortions Affect Our Mood?

The CBT Triangle helps bring awareness to exactly how our thoughts impact our mood and behaviors.

A situation occurs, you have a thought about it, which follows with a feeling attached to that thought. Then you have a response or behavior to the feeling/thought and it is generally confirmed in some way which perpetuates the process.

This cycle happens repeatedly throughout your day, which, depending on a negative or positive thought, can improve or impair your daily functioning. The good news is that each point in that cycle, you have a choice.

Ready To Get Help?

This is where you can absolutely get the help you need to make positive changes. You can read books on changing your thoughts to change your life, process your thoughts with friends for accountability, or go big and reach out to a therapist. If you are ready to make a change and want someone trained to help you with these issues then reach out. You can go to or call (405) 921-7776 to start your journey towards what better looks like for you today. We are here to help you and hope to hear from you soon.

Authored by Shae Gilbert, LPC and edited Shawn Maguire, LPC at New Vision Counseling and Consulting

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Andrew BrownAndrew Brown
11:05 06 Feb 24
Shawn called me directly and sought out a resolution with me for a recent poor experience I had. He showed genuine care and consideration over the phone, and demonstrated he truly cares about the clients that come here and wants everyone to get the help they need. That's how it needs to be in any place helping others in God. God bless.
Andy EatonAndy Eaton
21:00 11 Oct 23
I totally recommend Josh Rhoades. He's helped me overcome a lot of anxiety and work-related stress and the effects it's had on me this year. For any guys out there wondering if they should go to counseling, you should definitely give Josh and New Vision a try.
Mark VonFeldtMark VonFeldt
12:04 23 Aug 23
I admit I didn't think I needed counciling but when I hit a tough period in life. Caleb McKean at New Vison Counseling was extrodinary in helping me out and providing encourgement, prespective and confidence. In addition, it was great seeing Shawn McGuire who consitantly provided an uplifting personality that’s just contagious.
Elizabeth ProtzmanElizabeth Protzman
11:41 24 May 23
My husband and I just wrapped up counseling with Shawn. And if you told me 6 months ago our family would be how we are now, I would have been in total disbelief. Shawn’s approach to counseling is next level and took us to new places we never thought that we could experience freedom and he put a light on places we never knew were still dragging us down.My husband (before counseling) had past trauma that weighed him down so heavily that his negative self talk was taking over his mental life. He was completely unable to be social anywhere, see positivity in anything, and talked with a super meek voice because he didn’t see worth in himself. We thought that “this is just his personality”, but Shawn was able to uncover the trauma that was holding him back and helped him break free of it. He now speaks with a voice to be heard and even he engages in social situations!I went through a terrible health scare while we were going through sessions. My optometrist thought that I had a tumor or fluid build up in my skull. Shawn helped me navigate all of the feelings that I kept shoving down. On my second session of talking about this medical situation, we really got to the root of my stress and behavior in this situation and in life. I felt a ton of weight lifted off of me in that moment just by digging out every root in my heart that wasn’t welcome there. Later that day (a Thursday) I had my MRI scans and that Sunday I woke up headache/migraine free for the first time in four months. Monday I got the news that nothing was there. I truly believe that God did a healing work in that therapy session. A physical healing of my body and a spiritual healing of my mind.Through all of this Shawn was not only there for just our counseling sessions, but when I was going through all of the medical stuff he would check in and see how everything was going. He recommended for my husband to go to a camp that absolutely played a part in changing my husband’s life. And all that I’ve shared is only the surface of all of the healing we received. I would have to write a novel for the rest, lol.If you’re looking for healing and willing to show up and put in the work…Shawn will help you get there.
Steve RodriguezSteve Rodriguez
14:25 06 May 22
New Vision Counseling and Consulting saved my marriage as they helped and are helping me deal with my issues with depression and anxiety. I have been taught new methods of dealing with these issues and they are life saving. I have enjoyed my experience with Shawn Maguire, the best therapist I could ask for, and feel this place is a Godsend. I never thought therapy would work for me but I was wrong and wish I had come here sooner. Excited for what the future holds.

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