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Cognitive Distortions: How to Recognize and Overcome Negative Thinking Patterns

Cognitive Distortions: How To Recognize And Overcome Negative Thinking Patterns

Almost everyone has gotten caught in a negative thought loop at one point or another. Even if someone is generally positive, there are times when thoughts can spiral downward into a pattern of irrational and illogical thinking. Cognitive distortions are automatic and unconscious negative thinking patterns that can lead to negative self-talk, anxiety, and depression.

Recognizing and overcoming these patterns of thinking is an essential step toward improving mental health and achieving emotional well-being.

Common Cognitive Distortions

Black-and-white thinking, overgeneralization, jumping to conclusions, emotional reasoning, personalization, and labeling are some of the most common cognitive distortions that people experience.

Black-and-white thinking is the tendency to see things as either all good or all bad.

Overgeneralization involves making sweeping statements based on a single event.

Jumping to conclusions is the tendency to assume the worst-case scenario without evidence.

Emotional reasoning involves believing something is true because it feels true rather than based on evidence.

Personalization is the tendency to take responsibility for things that are beyond our control.

Labeling involves putting people or situations into categories based on limited information.

Recognizing Cognitive Distortions

The first step in overcoming cognitive distortions is recognizing them. Pay attention to the thoughts that go through your head and how you talk to yourself. When negative thoughts arise, practice challenging them by asking questions like: Is this thought really true? Are there any other perspectives I’m not considering? Can I be sure of this outcome?

Once you recognize these cognitive distortions, you may begin to identify patterns or triggers. Knowing what triggers your thoughts can help you to be more aware of them and less likely to get drawn into the negative thought loop.

Overcoming Cognitive Distortions

Once you can recognize cognitive distortions, the next step is to learn strategies for overcoming them. There are several techniques that can be helpful in challenging and reframing assumptions and beliefs.

Cognitive Restructuring

This method involves questioning your thoughts and considering alternative perspectives. By looking at things from different angles, it becomes easier to challenge distorted beliefs and replace them with healthier ones.


In this method, you focus on the evidence that supports a more balanced view of the situation. This helps to put things into perspective and reduces cognitive distortions.


This approach involves focusing on self-care, understanding your own emotions, and treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This can help to reduce feelings of self-judgment and shame, which are often a part of distorted thinking patterns.


Mindfulness meditation is a great way to practice being present in the moment without judgment or attachment to thoughts. It helps to create mental space between you and your thoughts, allowing them to pass without reaction.


If you’re struggling to recognize and overcome cognitive distortions, professional therapy can provide invaluable support. A qualified mental health provider can help you identify patterns of thinking and create strategies for changing them.

Break Negative Thinking Patterns with Mile High Psychiatry

Recognizing and overcoming cognitive distortions is an essential part of living a healthier, happier life. Learning to challenge negative thoughts and reframe your perspective is an important step in improving mental health and achieving emotional well-being.

At Mile High Psychiatry, we offer personalized treatments to help you overcome cognitive distortions and achieve emotional well-being. Our experienced team of mental health providers will work with you to create a plan of care tailored to your needs and lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more and get started.

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