Built up over time, our thoughts may start to habitually take a negative turn as a consequence of feeling anxious. This negative self talk may show up in the form of cognitive distortions, or misrepresented or false thoughts that may lead to incorrect assumptions. They also may lead to negative core beliefs about ourselves. These negative core beliefs (ideas that we hold to be true even if they aren’t) may impact self-esteem, confidence, self-worth, and many other psychological concepts that protect us against anxiety or distress.
To combat cognitive distortions and prevent developing negative core beliefs, therapists teach cognitive reframing. This practice, also known as cognitive restructuring, gives clients a different perspective to examine situations, ideas, or relationships – an objective, neutral perspective to consider against a negative, damaging one.
To practice cognitive reframing or restructuring, notice your thought patterns. Do you have any cognitive distortions or thoughts that lead you to view yourself poorly? Once you recognize when these thoughts happen, start to challenge them by asking for the objective evidence. Reflect on why you made this conclusion. What evidence do you have to support it? What are the facts? By evaluating the sincerity behind your conclusions, you may start to think differently – and feel differently – about yourself and who you are.