Challenging Our Distorted Thinking Patterns

As humans, it is common for us to develop certain thinking patterns. Many of these patterns reflect self-doubt, defeat, uncertainty, and negative self-perceptions. There are a number of questions we can practice asking ourselves in order to challenge our deeply rooted and distorted thinking patterns. Northern Ohio University Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy present a helpful resource, based on Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Here are a few questions from their resource you can practice on a daily basis to expand your thinking, build perspective, and challenge your thoughts:

  1. Am I confusing a thought with a fact? 
  2. Would my thought stand up in court, or be dismissed as circumstantial? 
  3. What objective evidence do I have to back it up and to contradict it? 
  4. Am I jumping to conclusions? 
  5. How do I know what someone else is thinking? 
  6. Am I assuming my view of things is the only one possible? 
  7. Is the way I am thinking now, helping me achieve my goal? 
  8. Or is it standing in the way of what I want? 
  9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of thinking this way? 
  10. Am I asking questions that have no answers? 
    • How can I undo the past? 
    • Why aren’t I different?
    • What is the meaning of life? 
    • Why does this always happen to me? 
    • Why is life so unfair?
  11. Am I using ultimatum words in my thinking? 
    • Such as always/never
    • Everyone/none
    • Everything/nothing
  12. Am I concentrating on my weakness and forgetting my strengths? 
  13. How have I coped with similar difficulties in the past? 
  14. Am I blaming myself for something which is not really my fault? 
  15. Am I taking something personally which has little or nothing to do with me? 
  16. Am I expecting myself to be perfect? 
  17. Am I using a double standard? 
  18. How would I react to someone else in my situation? 
  19. Am I assuming I can do nothing to change my situation? 
  20. Am I predicting the future instead of experimenting with it? 


Cherise White is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in prioritizing and taking care of your mental health, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.