Anxiety has a way of distorting a person’s reality and irrational thoughts are one of anxiety’s many culprits. 

Irrational thoughts are ideas based on faulty assumptions instead of logical reasoning. These assumptions can stem from past experiences or twisted perceptions about people, places and other beliefs. If you’ve ever predicted a worst-case scenario, tried to be a mind-reader or constantly battled with a self-defeating attitude, chances are you have experienced a case of irrational thinking.

Many reasons lead to this way of thinking. However, a mental health expert from VeryWell Mind suggested that anxiety is a contributing factor. While irrational thoughts are a regular human occurrence, how a person handles those thoughts as they arise defines the outcome of their experience. Believing irrational thoughts can potentially create more anxiety and worry. Then, it can become an ongoing cycle as the thoughts expand from the first. On the other hand, coping with irrational thinking helps manage the unwanted experience.

One way to manage irrational thoughts is by challenging them. By recognizing and evaluating the evidence behind the thoughts when they surface, you can help calm your mind. To find relief, consider these questions to yourself for when an irrational thought needs to be challenged.

Am I Confusing Possibility With Certainty?

Licensed clinical social worker Katrina Leggins posted a TikTok video breaking down the meaning behind this line of questioning. With this question, she acknowledges the thought’s possibility, but honors the fact that the chance of the worst-case scenario manifesting is slim.

“This is basically saying just because something can happen doesn’t mean it will or is likely to happen,” Leggins said.

Am I Predicting The Future Instead of Experimenting With It?

These thoughts communicate that a person’s past actions does not mean things will always remain the same. Discomfort is a natural part of life that promotes growth personally and professionally. Northeastern Ohio University, College of Medicine & Pharmacy, wrote, “If you predict the future, instead of trying something different, you are cutting yourself off from the chance of change. Change may be difficult, but it is not impossible.”

Is My Judgment Based On My Emotions Instead Of Facts?

Sometimes, a person’s emotions can blind them to the reality of the situation. If this is the case, it may be beneficial not to act right away until your mind is clear. If that is not the case, however, Leggins recommended identifying the worst-case scenario and creating an action plan with achievable steps. A sense of security will develop because it is a tangible game plan aimed at helping overcome the circumstance.

What Would I Tell A Friend Or Family Member Experiencing The Same Thoughts?

Often, it is easier for people to be harder on themselves than their loved ones. Comforting other people is usually done with love, care, gentleness and other sympathetic expressions. Reframing how a person views themselves allows for grace and support to be extended when external sources aren’t available to provide immediate comfort.

Am I Jumping To Conclusions?

According to Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine & Pharmacy, people jump to conclusions based on poor evidence. Assumptions are the outcome of people making their conclusions from the perceived actions of others. Instead, experts encouraged asking questions rather than making assumptions.