Top 10 Ways Our Thoughts Screw With Us

Top 10 Ways Our Thoughts Screw With Us

Episode Show Notes

In the therapy world, you’ll often hear about the “ancient brain”. It’s the idea that there’s a part of your brain hardwired to identify threats (or perceived threats) in your environment and protect itself. It’s natural for your brain to protect you by taking your thoughts to what you don’t want, don’t like, worst case scenarios and all the ways something can go wrong. It’s so common, in fact, that research based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has graciously provided us with a list of the 10 most common cognitive distortions, or what we like to call the top 10 ways your thoughts screw with you. Join Nikki, Jolene, and Alyssa as they walk you through how to recognize, name, and tackle these thinking errors.

In this episode we talk about:

What is CBT?

CBT is short for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy an evidenced-based method of talk therapy used to treat anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and other areas of mental health concern. It’s based on a cognitive (thought) model that identifies a link between our beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Basically, the concept that how we perceive a situation impacts our response more than the situation itself. Interesting. . . Very interesting, right?

What are Cognitive Distortions?

Cognitive Distortions were first proposed in 1976, by a psychologist named Aaron Beck. It’s an irrational thought response or habitual way of thinking that typically develops or evolves over time based on your experiences. They are thinking errors, thinking errors we all experience. If you’ve ever felt like your thoughts were screwing with you, you’ve likely experienced them, too. Don’t worry, this episode also covers a few tools to help you deal with these thinking errors in way that helps improve your responses and actions. For now, let’s get started with listing common cognitive distortions.

Top 10 Cognitive Distortions AKA Top 10 Ways our Thoughts Screw Us

  1. Catastrophizing: Going to the worst-case scenarios or seeing only the worst possible outcomes
  2. All-or-Nothing or Black and White thinking: When your thoughts take you to “always”, “never”, or “every”
  3. Personalization: The belief that you are responsible for events outside
  4. Overgeneralization: Making generalized interpretations from a single or few events/situations
  5. Emotional Reasoning: The idea that how I feel is who I am. Example: “I feel like a bad mom therefore, I must be a bad mom
  6. Disqualifying the Positive: Focusing only on the negative while ignoring the positive.
  7. Jumping to Conclusions: interpreting a situation with little evidence.
  8. Magnification and Minimization: Exaggerating or minimizing the significance of a situation.
  9. “Should” Statements
  10. Labeling: taking one characteristic of a person or self and applying it to the whole person

How to Deal with Cognitive Distortions

  • Practice Self-Awareness by using things like journaling to help you notice and reframe these thought, then say the logical thought aloud
  • Find someone you trust to help you challenge irrational thoughts and cognitive distortions as they see them come up. Watch your defense wall. Agree on how this conversation will go and be willing to accept this feedback.
  • Use logic, logic helps you stay grounded in what you know to be true instead of living in what you think may be true.

Therapists Uncut Challenge:

Choose one of these distortions that you most identify with and commit to noticing, naming, and reframing it throughout your week.

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some links:

To learn more about Arron Beck, visit Beck Institute of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Thank you for allowing us into your lives and helping us make mental health more relatable and a part of your everyday conversation! For more information or to access all episodes visit

What is the Therapists Uncut Podcast:

The Therapists Uncut Podcast is a light-hearted, informative self-help podcast for grown-ups. It is hosted by three off-the-clock therapists hoping to validate your experiences, normalize therapy and therapists, and help you prioritize your mental health.

Who are the Therapists Uncut Podcast Co-Hosts:

Nikki Young is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Nikki keeps it personable and professional. Yet, she always manages to keep the Therapists Uncut family and followers laughing. You may find her squirreling through topics, stories, or jokes, and all in good fun. Don’t worry because someone (usually Jolene) will bring her back around to the conversation. Nikki is a licensed marriage and family therapist in her private practice located in Modesto, CA, and she is also a Crisis Junkie at heart. In addition to being co-owner of a group private practice, she is also a crisis clinician responding to local mental health crisis and emergencies. Learn more about Nikki at

Alyssa Najera is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Alyssa is typically calm and composed on most days, but often has difficulty containing her excitement about the little things in life. She can sometimes drift into daydreaming about the endless possibilities in life and usually the last one of the group to understand Nikki and Jolene’s punchlines.  She loves to laugh, spread positivity, and is often caught with a smile on her face. Alyssa is also a Child Welfare Services (CWS) social worker and supervisor alumni, previous child sexual abuse forensic interviewer, and owner and CEO of a group private practice in the small town of Oakdale, CA. Learn more about Alyssa at or

Jolene Daly is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Jolene is a seasoned therapist and private practice owner. She grew up in the Turlock, CA and Modesto, CA area most of her adult life and has been married to her comedian of a husband Jason for 20 years.  She is a genuine, authentic person with a bold personality. You’ll often catch Jolene challenging our listeners and her fellow co-hosts, as she is passionate about her personal and professional values and is vocal when it comes to speaking out for what’s right. Learn more about Jolene at


Thank you for joining Therapists Uncut, a production of AMP Smart Business. To learn more about Therapists Uncut and stay up on upcoming episodes, please subscribe and follow us on social media. As a reminder, although the Therapists Uncut co-hosts are licensed therapists, they are not your therapist. This podcast is not intended to substitute professional mental health counseling. If you need professional therapy, please contact your local provider or primary care provider.  Thanks for listening and we’ll see you on the next episode of Therapists Uncut!

Social Media Links

Instagram @therapistsuncut

Facebook @therapistsuncut


Therapists Uncut is a production of AMP Smart Business.

Voice Over by Alexia Gloria