I’m Changing My Brain in 2019


I’m approaching 2019 differently.

In the past, I’ve made resolutions of grandeur, like the time I ran a half marathon with my sister. While this is something I’m proud of (and will probably never EVER do again) I know that I need more nudging on the everyday stuff, and less future goal-setting. For me, I need to focus on incorporating positivity and gratitude into my life, and I need to do it consistently.

Truth be told, I’m usually pretty skilled at redirecting my children’s negative thoughts and feelings, but not so great at my own on a consistent basis. Therefore, my intention for 2019 is to tackle my cognitive distortions.

Are You Familiar With Cognitive Distortions?

Simply put, they are the ways in which we view or interpret the world in a negative or distorted manner. Psychiatrist Aaron Beck, M.D., who is considered the pioneer of cognitive therapy, developed the theories behind cognitive distortions. His student, psychiatrist and best-selling author David Burns, M.D., expanded upon them with names and examples. You can find his latest book HERE. 

Sidenote: Aaron Beck also wrote a great book on incorporating cognitive therapy into relationship issues, which can be found here on Amazon. 

We all fall victim to cognitive distortions from time to time, but sometimes they can take over and lead to a dark place. Because of this, therapists work with clients to identify and process cognitive distortions in the therapeutic setting in order to pinpoint the stuff that underlies depression, anxiety, etc. 


Here’s A List of Ten Main Cognitive Distortions:

Do You Identify With Any of These?

In my case, all-or-nothing thinking, discounting the positives, and “should statements” all resonate with me too often and too deeply. In light of this, I’m using the new year as an opportunity to take a hard look at how I can spin my mind in self-destructive ways instead of for good. Truly, I want to be one of those people who looks on the sunny side of life…not constantly looking over my shoulder to see if danger is on the horizon.

Furthermore, Healthy Psych has a really cool series of psychological self-help tools available on their website: https://healthypsych.com/psychology-tools-series/. With this intention, I plan to utilize these to continue to identify and reframe my cognitive distortions, as well as to practice positivity and manage stress.

Although I can’t change who I am on a soul level, I am confident that I can alter the way I view the world for the better.

For more information on cognitive distortions, an in-depth, expanded list can be found on this site. 

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Melissa Mark and her husband Tyler are both Phoenix natives who moved to Flagstaff in 2008. With her Master's degree in Community Counseling, she worked as a therapist in Wickenburg, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Flagstaff, mostly specializing in eating disorders. They have two boys, Nolan (8) and Landon (6), who keep them equally busy and entertained. Melissa is fascinated by people and loves to learn about different personalities, backgrounds and interests. This could explain her obsession with reality TV (mostly on Bravo), good novels, and talking with friends over a glass of wine. Melissa writes about juggling motherhood, family life, wellness, humor, pop culture, and more on her personal blog: http://ajourneytobalance.com/