Thought Patterns that Create Anxiety and Stress

· October 2, 2015

Stress can threaten all of us at one time or another as a result of a variety of different events and conflicts. And if these events and conflicts accumulate, they can cause significant threats to our mental health.

Although we may overcome these events, even just recalling them can cause tension that can turn into stress and anxiety. Memories are internal triggers that can cause stress, even when we are not actually under any kind of stress in real life.

It is very important to be aware of the traps that we can fall into that can cause us to become stressed.

There are various common cognitive distortions that can cause stress. We have to be aware of these distortions in order to re-design the thought patterns that lead us to them.

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Cognitive distortions that cause anxiety and stress

1 – Thoughts do not equal reality

We have the tendency to believe that our thoughts are real because they are so strong. They have been accepted by others and they’ve replayed in our minds many times, but really, these thoughts are only thoughts and do not necessarily represent an objective reality.

Our thoughts cause us to become biased, distorting our reality and believing our thoughts instead of relying on physical evidence. In this way,perception can be responsible for the feelings of anxiety and insecurity that we experience. Therefore, it is vital to confirm what is really going on before jumping to conclusions and making assumptions about the situation.


2 – Placing value judgements on subjective assumptions

When we begin to believe that all of our thoughts are true just because they seem to be that way in our imaginations, we end up  with distorted thoughts. This type of irrational thinking shows up  because human beings tend to form opinions and make value judgements about people, situations and events.

Once again, this subjective bias can distort reality. When we base our conclusions solely on what we think, we can fall into the trap created by this type of distortion. Sometimes, these thoughts can randomly cross our minds and plant irrational seeds within them.

3 – Believing all thoughts are equal

When we start to believe that all of our thoughts carry equal weight, we can make mistakes. Some of our thoughts only represent our opinion on something or are a result of our individual assessment. Some of our thoughts may be important, but others can be irrelevant to the situation at hand.

However, most of us do not discriminate between important thoughts and irrelevant ones and we jump to conclusions that cause us stress. We need to be aware of those thoughts that are exaggerated and generalized.

4 – Threatening thoughts

Sometimes we can imagine threats in every situation and we start to believe each thought that comes into our heads. Remember, not every thought is real. Some of our thoughts can plant unnecessary, and often irrational, threats in our minds.

Those who have these types of thoughts tend to believe them and end up feeling threatened and stressed out. We have to be very careful with this tendency and not give in to every thought that enters our minds.

5 – Staying trapped in a stressful thought pattern

Sometimes, we can become trapped in a thought pattern that includes distorted beliefs of permanence, inevitability, and personal blame.

These traps can cause an immense amount of stress in the person who believes that the stress will last forever (distortion of permanence). But really, very few stress factors last forever.

6 – Generalizing the state of stress

When we tend to believe that the effects of stress have been generalized and are going to affect every aspect of our lives, we are not thinking realistically and need to re-evaluate our thought patterns.

Pessimistic people tend to make these mistakes of over-generalization. They begin to believe that stress affects every facet of their lives and that everything will fall apart sooner or later. But realistically, this simply isn’t true.

Controlling our thoughts to deal with stress

It is possible to deal with stress in an effective. We can manage stress by controlling our thoughts and not giving in to every thought that enters our minds.

Keep this in mind so that you do not distort your conclusions, and begin to replace your thoughts with healthy and functional thought patterns.