When Illogical Thoughts Become Serious



Illogical thoughts. Thought ‘demons’ that don’t jive with reality and dwell on negativity.

We all have silly, irrational thoughts from time to time. This post is about those who have irrational thoughts a majority of the time.

Illogical, irrational thoughts are termed “cognitive distortions.” Sharon Martin defines cognitive distortions as “basically your mind playing tricks on you; convincing you that you’re not as good as everyone else, people don’t like you, you’re at fault, things are hopeless, or other negative beliefs.”

This kind of thinking is unproductive and can become habitual. Not to mention that it’s tragic to filter out life’s positives but allow negative thoughts in unfettered.

If this describes your thinking pattern, it’s time for self-reflection and self-compassion.

You may need professional help addressing how your destructive thoughts are affecting you.

 Where Illogical Thoughts Come From

Illogical thoughts can come from many sources: trauma, anxiety, bad luck, mental health challenges. They can also result from a person’s (stubborn, incomprehensible) willingness to remain stuck in negativity.

When it’s a major affliction, irrational thinking is destructive. This is why it’s so important to find out how these thoughts occupy your mind and understand what they consist of.

10 Typical Illogical Thoughts

1. Ignoring Positives.

“I just got a great job. My friend just got a much better job.”


2. Generalizing. 

“I was bullied in high school. I’ll be bullied forever.”


3. Focusing On The Negative.

I was hired for the job I wanted. But now I see how imperfect the job is.


4. Catastrophizing.

I didn’t use sunscreen last week, now there is a new mole on my hand. I already know what the doctor will say.


5. Conclusion Hopping

She didn’t respond to my party invitation. She doesn’t like me.


6. Black And White Thoughts

I never succeed.


7. Labelling Yourself

I am stupid. I always mess up.


8. It’s My Fault

I ruined it for everybody.


9. Believing That Life Opportunities Are Limited

She found love. I won’t.


10. Dismissing

Everyone tells me how skilled I am. I just don’t absorb these compliments, nor believe them to be true.


Owe Up To Them.

How? One simple way is to pay close attention to comments you receive from others. Others may routinely say: “You are SO hard on yourself.” Or, “Your perfectionism is going to kill you,” or, “You actually think your work is no good?” These red flag comments indicate that you’re projecting your cognitive distortions beyond yourself to others. You need help with your thoughts. Own this.


Cognitive Restructuring. 

This approach, central to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps sufferers identity and alter their irrational thoughts. Changing habitual thought patterns is not easy. Your brain is asked to turn its thoughts upside down. But the right therapist can be an excellent CBT teacher and help you alter your outlook.


Raising Your Awareness 

3 ways: 1) This 5 Step self-help exercise explains how irrational thinking unfolds and can be curbed. 2) A ‘Thought Journal’ (a notebook or diary) can help you keep tabs of illogical thoughts so as to learn when and why you have them. 3) The Snap It Technique (read about that, here) alerts you to distorted thoughts so you can arrest them.


Alternative Thoughts.

You can learn to alter a illogical thought and change it. For example, you may be scolding yourself over a ‘failed’ outcome you had at work. A better response: “Stop the crap. You did your best on that and you know it.”


Is the Thought Productive? 

If your automatic thinking is primarily unproductive and/or unkind to yourself, your health will suffer. Wellness does not come from a toxic, self-loathing mindset.

Find a therapist skilled in cognitive behaviour therapy. Recommendations about finding the right therapist can be found here.


Most Importantly

By regularly attacking your morale with defeatist thoughts, you are, in effect, dismissing all of your unique qualities and skills, all your achievements, all of your successes.

This is not okay.

This is not acceptable.

Illogical thinking, on overdrive, is ruinous.

It requires help. Care enough about yourself and your future to seek it out.



Recommended Extra Reading

If you want to explore this topic on your own, read the classic “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David D. Burns. M.D. 

Lolly Daskal, “7 Effective Ways to Tame Your Negative Thoughts.”

Donna M. White, Challenging Our Cognitive Distortions and Creating Positive Outlooks.

Alice Boyes, Ph.D, 50 Common Cognitive Distortions.




This entry was posted on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 11:25 pm and is filed under Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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