For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
Proverbs 23:7


Analyzing thoughts is a significant part of any counseling process. In the Christian Counseling process we seek to examine thoughts, watching how they impact our sense of well-being on a daily basis.

Habits of Mind

Like any type of behavior, thoughts are like internal conversations, or a type of self-dialogue about ourselves, others, and the world. Some thought patterns occur over and over again. When thoughts replay many times, they become habits. Thoughts on this level move into the unconscious, functioning without question. One goal of examining thoughts in the counseling process is to move our “habits of mind” back into the conscious level through self reflection.

What “Drives” our Thoughts?

Thoughts flow from beliefs. Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case regardless of empirical evidence to prove it with certainty. Beliefs flow from a deeper place; Christianity refers to this as the “heart.” Beliefs are created spiritually and shaped by various events in our lives. By examining thoughts, we discover where life has affected us at vulnerable moments, giving opportunity to incorporate misguided beliefs. Often times we are unaware of these pivotal events that shape how we perceive ourselves, others, and the world, until we start to examine our thoughts.

Basic Forms of Self-Deceptive Thinking

Here are 10 general types of thought distortions that can help in assessing your “habits of mind:”

  1. Rationalizations: Creating excuses for events in life that are negative, or for when you make faulty choices.
  2. All or Nothing Thinking: Seeing the world in either positive or negative extremes. This distortion leaves no room for middle ground.
  3. Overgeneralization: Taking events that are either positive or negative, and with insufficient evidence, adopting them to categorize people, places or situations.
  4. Fortune Telling: Based on past experience, making predictions that the future will turn out poorly.
  5. Emotional Rreasoning: Assuming that negative feelings are accurate predictors of truth or reality.
  6. Magnification: Exaggerating the importance of an event, and allowing it to define reality.
  7. Personalization: Taking ownership for a negative situation or event when it really is not your responsibility.
  8. Discounting Positive Events: Rejecting good outcomes in life, like they occurred as a fluke, or an accident. Failing to accept responsibility for personal gifts and their influence on situations.
  9. Distorted Expectations: Believing that situations should be a certain way, and then when the expectation is not met, stubbornly refusing to adjust to reality.
  10. Mind Reading: Assuming the ability to know what others are thinking about us. Usually the assumption is negative, and leads to further distorted thoughts about
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