Cognitive distortions: overcoming emotional reasoning for moms and dads

Thank you for joining Stay-in-Bed Mom Blog (SIBMB) for an ongoing positive self-talk series. Self-love starts with positive self-talk. We’ll continue to discuss cognitive distortions, or unhelpful thinking styles, through the lens of parenthood. Last time we discussed overcoming magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization. A little cognitive distortion here, a little exaggeration there isn’t going to affect your mental state in the short term. However, if your negative thinking becomes chronic, then your mental health will undoubtedly suffer.

What’s emotional reasoning? We say, “If I feel that way, it must be true.”

What’s an example of emotional reasoning? “If I feel I’m a lazy mom (dad), then I must be one.”

What does emotional reasoning look like in your mom or dad life? Your problems are blown out of proportion, while the positive aspects of your mom/dad life are ignored. 

How can emotional reasoning be harmful? Emotions are strong in us and can easily blot out our rational/logical thoughts if we aren’t on alert. We may mistakenly believe our unhealthy emotion reflects the way things actually are.

Am I using emotional reasoning in my daily life? You may be if… you catch yourself using words or phrases like…

  • “I feel guilty, therefore I must have done something bad.”
  • “I feel overwhelmed and hopeless, therefore my problems must be impossible to solve.”
  • “I feel inadequate, therefore I must be a worthless person.”
  • “I’m not in the mood to do anything, therefore I might as well just lie in bed.”

Do…use the 3 Cs!

  1. Categorize the negative, self defeating thought. Identify the unwanted thought or thinking pattern (e.g. all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filter, disqualifying the positive, jumping to conclusions – mind reading and fortune telling, magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization, emotional reasoning, etc.). Write it in a thought journal.
  2. Challenge the thought. Look at what you wrote down. Review your thought journal and look for signs of disqualifying the positive. Reframe the undesired thought. Ask yourself how someone else would view your thought. Is this really true?
  3. Change the thought. Replace your thought with a positive or an optimistically realistic one. Believe you can create a different outcome in the future. A single negative event doesn’t hold true forever.

What can I do to overcome emotional reasoning?

Your emotions emanate from your thoughts. Realize that your thoughts may be broken or distorted. Test your thoughts. Can you prove your thought is wrong?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on


A Final Thought – From the Pillow

I’m not good enough. Scratch that thought! I AM mom (or dad) enough. 

So keep talking back to your brain.

What strategies have worked for you for overcoming emotional reasoning?

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