Anxiety Part 2 - Distorted Thought Patterns

mental health naturopathic medicine understanding anxiety Apr 14, 2023
Naturopathic Medicine Support for Anxiety

How you think is important for your mental health and wellbeing. In this blog post you can learn about the various forms of distorted thought patterns that can contribute to your anxiety. You can also learn solutions on how to changes these distorted thought patterns. 


1. Mind reading – assuming you know what people think without having sufficient evidence. “He thinks I’m a loser.”

Solution – Instead of making assumptions and making up a story in your head, check in to get the facts before assuming something to be true.


2. Fortune telling – predicting the future negatively. Things will get worse or there is danger ahead in the future.

Solution – Come back into the present moment. Recognizing that the future hasn’t happened yet. The more you focus your energy on a negative future, the more the energy grows and makes the situation feel more real in your mind. Focus on creating a vision that is positive for what you want in your future instead of fear-based projections.


3. Negative filtering – focusing on the negatives and not noticing the positives. “Look at all of the people who don’t like me.”

Solution – Begin gathering evidence that contradicts negative filters. Start cultivating a gratitude practice.


4. Over-generalizing – A single negative event is used for how you perceive all events. “This generally happens to me. I constantly fail at a lot of things.”

Solution – Question if these thoughts and statements are actually true. Who would you be without thinking these thoughts?


5. Dichotomous thinking – viewing events or people in an all-or-nothing term. “I get rejected by everyone.”

Solution – Question if these thoughts and statements are actually true. Who would you be without thinking these thoughts?


6. Should – interpreting your world in terms of things should be instead of how they actually are. “I should do well, otherwise I’m a failure. I should be busy otherwise I’m lazy.”

Solution – Stop using the words should in your vocabulary. This word comes from valuing someone else’s opinion or belief than trusting your own choices and abilities to make decisions for yourself. When listening to someone else’s opinions, it places you in a space of feeling guilty.


7. Personalizing – Attributing blame inwards to yourself for negative events that happen. You fail to see that other people can cause events to happen too. “The marriage ended because I failed.”

Solution – Other people’s opinions of you are none of your business. Do your best to not take things to personally and internalizing everyone else’s emotions and feelings as something you’ve done. You are not responsible for how others react and how others decide to feel. Same as you are the only one responsible for how you decide to feel.  


8. Blaming – not taking responsibility for changing yourself and instead focus your blame on others for the source of your negative feelings. What other people may have done to you does not mean it was okay, but you are the only person responsible for how you want to feel.

Solution – Remember every time you point the finger out at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. Ask yourself the question “What does this say about me?” and take responsibility for how you show up and interact with others.


9. Comparisons – interpreting events by unrealistic standards. You compare yourself to someone else, focusing on those doing better that you and making yourself feel inferior. “She’s more successful than I am.”

Solution – Let go of unrealistic expectations and recognize that when we compare ourselves to others, we are only hurting ourselves. We lose our ability to be authentic when trying to conform and be like everyone else. If you are a beginner trying something new, it doesn’t make sense to compare yourself to an expert in the field that has been doing something for years. Be compassionate with where you are at in your life and not disheartened. When you find you’re comparing yourself to wanting what someone else has, instead of putting yourself down, allow yourself to see this person as an expander. An expander is someone who already has been where you are now and have gone onto becoming successful or has the job, relationship, house etc. that you want. Be inspired by these people because they have achieved what you want. Therefore, it makes it possible for you to achieve that same thing too. This person is showing you, your untapped potential.


10. Regret focus – keeping your thoughts stuck in the past rather than what you can take action on and do now in the present. “I could have done better if I would have tried” or “I wish I didn’t say that.”

Solution – focusing our thoughts on the past, keeps us stuck there instead of living in the present moment. All we can do with our past is change our perspective on how we want to think about our past. We can learn to accept the lessons our past has taught us, honour our past struggles and give ourselves love and compassion for always doing the best that we can.


11. What if? – This keeps you focus on the future and staying in an anxious worried state about something that may never happen.

Solution – do your best to stay present in the now. Ask yourself “do I have any problems in this current moment?” The answer is always no, as when we are in the present moment of the now there is no room for problems. Our problems can be thought projections and worries of the future. Prepare for worst-case scenarios if you like, but overall it is best to realize that positive outcomes can also happen.


12. Emotional Reasoning – You let your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. “I feel depressed; therefore, my marriage is not working out.”

Solution - Tune in with your emotions to determine if the thought patterns you’re having is true. Get the facts.  


13. Judgement – You evaluate yourself, others and events in terms of good/bad or superior/inferior, rather than describing, accepting or understanding. You are measuring yourself and others against arbitrary standards, where you and others can never be good enough. “Look at how successful she is, I’m not successful.” “If I tried playing tennis, I wouldn’t do well.”

Solution – Recognize your own insecurities. Stay in your own lane and work on building yourself up rather than tearing someone else down. Often what we judge in other people is a reflection of our shadow selves and what we are not willing to accept or witness within ourselves. If you are judging someone else, it may make you feel like the better or superior person. Therefore, you are not placing yourself as the person who is potentially feeling inferior, shame or not being good enough. It may be time to start looking at your own internal wounding and where in your life you have felt inferior, shame and not good enough. Working on healing yourself can work to break the judgement cycle and help you to understand why you are judging in the first place. Judgement of others can also be a way of disassociating and disconnecting with your internal world and self. Judgement is a way of avoiding your own internal insecurities and feelings.



Greenberger, D. & Padesky, C. 1995. Mind Over Mood. New York: The Guilford Press.



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