Don’t let your brain fool you with its cognitive distortion tricks. These are short cuts that are performed on a neural level to quickly interpret and respond to incoming information. We all fall subject to a few every once and awhile but identifying patterns of these continual thoughts could help you change your outlook on life, others, and yourself.
Breaking the cycle of these negative thought patterns is a common technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Some of these distortions include assuming the worst (catastrophizing), skewing your perception of control (or lack of control) in a given situation, repetitive thoughts (rumination), overgeneralizing, and filtering information to either support or deny a bias.
Speaking from personal experience, I came to realize I ruminate a lot. But becoming aware of this has helped me identify when I am thinking this way, rationalize, and step back from the negative thoughts. This has helped me feel more in control and much more balanced in life.
It can be difficult to have a positive outlook (let alone feel happy) when your thoughts get stuck in these negative loops. A good way to become more mindful of your thoughts is to write them down. You could practice writing when you’re feeling upset, nervous, or stressed, or just try to consistently take time to write a little bit of anything every day.