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Distorted VS Rational Thoughts – Everything You Need to Know

In recent years, researchers have inspected the nature of distorted and rational thoughts on individuals’ quality of life.


Every process of thought is the result of a multistep sequence that produces beliefs, feelings, and ideas about different aspects of life. Unfortunately, distorted thoughts can be devastating for a person’s quality of life, which is why you need to learn some steps in order to counter it.

In this article, I will cover the definitions of distorted versus rational thoughts to help you understand the impact of both processes.

The difference between distorted and rational thoughts

· “I’m the unluckiest person on earth.”
· “I failed a school exam; I have no purpose.”
· “My friend is late for our meeting, and it’s raining. She must’ve been in a car accident.“

These examples display a form of distorted thoughts that make you see the world in an inaccurate, negative way. These habitual errors of thinking are part of a larger concept known as cognitive distortion.

Note that most people experience cognitive distortion occasionally. However, reinforcement of these thoughts leads to #anxiety, #depression, and #relationship problems.

Research suggests that people develop distorted thoughts to cope with adverse life events. Proportionally, the more severe and prolonged the adverse events are, the worse your distortions will be. According to one theory, human beings develop cognitive distortions as a form of evolutionary survival method. Differently put, stress forces people to adapt their thinking to ensure their survival. However, these thoughts are not rational nor healthy in the long term.

Experts also call this process an all-or-nothing, black and white thinking. It most commonly affects people who are used to thinking in extremes.

If you are convinced that you can either succeed or lose everything or that people are either angelic or evil, you are doing what is known as polarized thinking, which is a form of distorted thoughts.

It is an unrealistic and damaging way of thinking since reality exists somewhere in between the extremes in the vast majority of cases.

On the other hand of the spectrum, we have rational thoughts, which describe the ability to integrate the variables of a situation to analyze relevant information. Examples of these variables include facts, opinions, judgments, and data.

The whole purpose of this process is to reach a sound conclusion.

Takeaway message

Learning the difference between distorted and rational thoughts will help you identify negative thoughts and get over them. You will become efficient at making decisions despite the complexity of the situation.

Instead of having polarized ideas about different aspects of life, you will understand that the solution to most issues lies somewhere in the middle. A great book to get started on letting go of distorted thinking is "Let That Sh*t Go: A Journal for Leaving Your Bullsh*t Behind and Creating a Happy Life (Zen as F*ck Journals)" by Monica Sweeny.

I hope that this article managed to simplify these complex psychological concepts; however, if you have any thoughts about what we discussed, please do not hesitate to share them in the comment section below.

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