Thoughts. Cognitions. Ideas. Beliefs. Fantasy. Perceptions. If there is one lesson I teach my clients most often, it is that thoughts precede emotions. That is, your thoughts, which include perception, belief, and imagination, are what cause your brain to determine whether emotion will occur.
Take, for example, thinking that occurs when one is rejected for a job. One could say, “I’m never going to get a job. I’m useless; I’m going to be unemployed and undesirable forever.” This depressive thinking will result in depressed feelings, then depressive behavior. And the cycle will perpetuate. Contrast that thinking with something more positive: “This job didn’t work out. It clearly wasn’t a good fit. I’m sure there will be something else for which I am a good fit.” That kind of thinking won’t prevent disappointment, but it will soothe the ego and prevent more depressive feelings.
So, as promised, here are some of the thought errors that can cause or worsen depression and anxiety:
–“Woe is me” (generalization)
–Believing one’s emotional and relational suffering are due to a broken brain—not a broken life—and that one is mentally ill, biologically inferior, or disabled, and therefore powerless to effect meaningful change.
We all are guilty of silly thinking; some more than others. It is easy to see how almost all depressed persons and those who struggle with anxiety are encumbered by inappropriate thinking. Yet another cause for depressive and anxious symptoms that do not require a broken brain.