The Nature of Thoughts (Free CBT Handout)
We created this “The Nature of Thoughts & Cognitive Distortions” free CBT handout to help you to learn more about your thoughts.
The Nature of Thoughts
We obviously have millions upon millions of thoughts whizzing through our brains throughout the day. Our thoughts are a part of everything whether we pay attention to them or not. Thoughts, or cognitions, can come in the forms of words, phrases, images, memories, intuitions, impulses, and our own self talk.
Our thoughts are –
·often unconscious or at least we don’t pay much attention to them
·believable – why wouldn’t we believe them they’re in our heads?!
·unexamined – we often don’t spent much time thinking about our thinking.
·Impact how we feel and what we do
Our brains are incredibly efficient and are really good at making short cuts and forming habits. This is because (very simply) neurons that fire together wire together. As we repeat thinking patters or behaviours neural networks are formed in our brains and are strengthened over time and through use. It probably took you a long time and a lot of concentration to back out of a parking spot for the first time. However, as you did it over and over you have to think about it less and less and you get quicker and quicker at doing it.
Cognitive Thinking Patterns
This same concept applies when it comes to cognitive or thinking patterns. If we repeatedly approach challenges in our lives thinking, “I’m capable and I can figure this out,” then those neural pathways will get strong and we’ll likely approach challenges with a sense of confidence. However, if we repeatedly approach challenges thinking, “I’m totally incompetent, I’m going to mess this us,” we’ll likely be left feeling anxious and deflated when we experience the tough parts of life. Neural networks or pathways, whether they are positive and helpful or negative and problematic strengthen over time.
CBT invites us to get curious and to start examining our negative behaviours and thinking patterns. We don’t have to take our thoughts at face value as we can test them, critique them, pull them apart and put them back together.
Thinking in negative ways or getting stuck in negative thinking patters is so common, especially when it comes to mental health challenges, that we actually have a name for it – Cognitive Distortions or Unhelpful Thinking Styles. Cognitive distortions are based on a thought or idea that might be partially true or could be true but then are distorted and become extreme. The free handout includes a list of some common Unhelpful Thinking Styles.
“The Nature of Thoughts” – Free CBT Handout
Click this link to view in a new window & download: The Nature of Thoughts & Cognitive Distortions.
[You can find more free handouts on our Free CBT Resources page!]FREE CBT 7 Nature of Thoughts and Cog Distortions