If you are human, you likely suffer from some degree of irrational thoughts. This mindset stems from an inherent anxiety, which distorts your relationship with reality, and creates a false narrative in your mind. While irrational thoughts are a natural part of the human experience, it’s important to identify and isolate these patterns, so they don’t overwhelm your consciousness. Below, I’ve listed 7 ways to recognize your thoughts are irrational.
1. You are catastrophizing
Catastrophizing is immediately jumping to the worst case scenario conclusion based on little to no evidence. This irrationality arises from a failure to correctly evaluate problems, and does not have a grounding in reality. If you find yourself constantly fearing impending doom, you may be catastrophizing.
2. Your thoughts stem from false core beliefs
You may hold core beliefs about yourself, or the world, that simply do not reflect reality. If you find yourself making absolute assumptions, such as “I am worthless”, for no apparent reason, you may harbor an inherently flawed set of beliefs about yourself, and your environment. Try challenging the foundation of these beliefs, and remind yourself of how your friends and family see you. Would they think you are worthless or unintelligent? Of course not. You are basing these ideas on thin air; they contain no substance!
3. Your thoughts are based on “mind reading”
In irrational scenarios, you may attribute thoughts or assumptions to others, without real evidence. For instance, if you slip up while speaking, you may convince yourself that the listener thinks your stupid. This thought is not grounded in reality! You are not a mind reader; you don’t possess magical super powers. If you are genuinely worried, ask your friend or loved one what they are thinking.
4. You have all-or-nothing thinking
Closely associated with depression, this form of irrational thinking can lead to serious emotional turmoil, evoking guilt, shame, and despair. You may feel like your future is doomed, that you have no potential, or there is no hope for your life. These thoughts can weigh as heavy as lead, and it’s important to escape their gravity before falling into a depressive episode.
5. Your thoughts are intrusive and unwanted
Do you find yourself constantly at war with intrusive thoughts? Are you distressed and upset by persistent patterns in your thinking? This is a common form of irrational cognition. When thoughts seemingly infiltrate your consciousness, inciting unfounded fear and anxiety, they are likely irrational.
6. You experience feelings of grandiosity
Irrational thoughts can swing on both sides of the spectrum. If you are experiencing an exaggerated sense of self-importance, where you think you are superior to your peers, your thinking is most likely irrational.
7. You take grand leaps in logic
Do you jump from A to Z with some obvious missing steps in between? Do you automatically assume other people know what you are thinking? These errors in logic can result in misunderstanding and distress. It’s important to be open and honest when communicating with yourself, and others, in order to avoid leaps in logic. Use evidence and facts to draw conclusions, rather than emotions and fears.
At the end of the day, we are all human, and that means we are all a little irrational. Don’t beat yourself up. Just learn to recognize the signs of an irrational spiral, before descending into a cycle of anxiety. Ground yourself in the real world, remind yourself of the facts, and don’t let your thoughts weigh you down! You are so much more than that little voice in your head. You are worthy, capable, strong, and resilient. And you will come out on top.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman