“I should have spent longer preparing for that lesson.”
“I’m always failing as a teacher.”
“I feel like a total mess.”
“I’m sure my students won’t do as well as I want them to.”
Do you ever find yourself engaging in thoughts like these? It’s called “irrational thinking,” and we all do it at times. In fact, it can become so habitual to think this way that we don’t even realize the extent to which we are doing it. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned through my graduate training in counseling psychology is a concept called “cognitive restructuring.” This is a way to notice the thoughts I’m having that are irrational, and then come up with ways to change these thoughts so that I can have a more positive outlook on life and ultimately be more productive and happy. In this post as well as next week’s post, I will give you the tools to conduct this process on your own.
The first step in cognitive restructuring is to identify the type of irrational thought you are having. Most irrational thoughts fall into one of the following ten categories, called “cognitive distortions,” as outlined in the work of David D. Burns. Take a minute to read through them and ask yourself whether you engage in these types of thinking:
- All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure: “One part of my guided practice did not go as planned, therefore my entire lesson was bad.”