3 Mind tricks that lead to anxiety and depression: by Empower Counseling

Through working with clients using Acceptance Commitment Therapy, we at Empower Counseling recognize many ways our brains keep us stuck in our heads rather than living our lives in the present moment.

We tend to think that every thought our brains give us is the truth. One of the biggest mistakes we humans make is walking around thinking we are right all of the time. Our brains are very convincing but everything our brains tell us is not true and is not helpful.

What is helpful is using mindfulness to recognize when a thought is unhelpful to you and letting go of it before you become tangled up with it in your head. Getting tangled in unhelpful thoughts leads to anxiety and depression.

Here are 3 mind tricks our brains use that lead to anxiety and depression:


We as humans as so concerned with what other people think of us. When we are not sure of what someone thinks about us, we pay attention to every little look on that person’s face, every choice of word, etc. If we pay enough attention to all of the details, we think we know what that other person thinks about us BUT WE DO NOT.

Thinking we know what someone else is thinking about us, or about anything really, if that person has not told you….is called mind reading. I have not met a person yet who could actually read minds.

This is an unhelpful exercise and thorough waste of your time for several reasons.

First, most of the time you will think that other person is thinking something negative about you, which will bring you down and probably affect how you interact with that person. Second, and please HEAR ME WHEN I SAY THIS…other people are not thinking about you, most of the time. They are thinking about their lives, their problems, and maybe even what to have for lunch.

Mindreading is never helpful. If you are concerned with what someone else thinks about you, just go ask the person. That is a more effective and efficient use of your time.

Catastrophizing: 1 of 3 mindtricks that lead to anxiety and depression

Have you ever had a day when you thought, “I really stink at this”, “I should hang it up”, “There is no point in even trying”.

That my friend is what we call catastrophizing….taking one small piece of evidence-a blip on the screen- one day or one part of a day in your life and making it mean way more than it really does. Even the best at what they do have a bad day or a bad outcome. Don’t let it mean more than it does. All it means is you had a bad day-or a bad few minutes. Don’t let that tiny piece of data override all of the data you have collected over the years that shows you are capable.

Comparing yourself to others: last of 3 mindtricks that lead to anxiety and depression

Talk about a complete waste of time. This is it. When you compare yourself to others, I am sure you do not find someone who is lesser than in the comparison. What I mean is, if you don’t like your body type, you are not going to find someone with what you think is a worse body type, compare yourself to that person and come out ahead. You will compare yourself to the person you think has the ultimate body. You might compare your intelligence to the most recent Nobel Prize winner. You might compare your athletic ability to the ultimate athlete. Where does this get you? Does it motivate you to work harder, be better? NO, IT DOES NOT. Does it leave you feeling like a person who is lesser than? YES, IT DOES, because more often than not, comparisons lead to self-criticism. Focusing on what is not perfect about you will not be helpful in any way. It is not uplifting. It is not motivating. Therefore, it is not a fruitful use of your time.

Time spent thinking about your strengths and your weaknesses in a purely analytic way, is helpful to you. You can focus on your strengths and build upon them, or find ways to make any weaknesses, less weak, or more of a strength.

The only comparison that is helpful is comparing who you are today to who you were yesterday to see if what you are doing is moving you in the direction you want to go, or if you need to try something else.

Empower Counseling: Anxiety and depression specialists in Birmingham, alabama

At Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama, each of our knowledgeable and compassionate counselors is trained in Acceptance Commitment Therapy for anxiety and depression. This is a higher level cognitive behavioral therapy scientifically proven to treat anxiety and depression. Kathryn, Adam, and Kristine specialize in anxiety counseling and depression counseling for teens, counseling for college students, therapy for young adults, and counseling for professionals. Adam is also a certified addiction specialist offering counseling for addiction. It is so easy to get started with one of of counselors.

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