Change Distorted Thinking Patterns to Naturally Treat Your Pain (Part 1)

By October 2, 2013May 13th, 2020Chronic Pain

Our negative, and sometimes unrealistic thoughts about our pain and other life events can have a significant and detrimental impact on how we perceive pain sensations, how we feel emotionally, and how we react to the pain.  When we think negatively, we are more likely to feel distressed and engage in self-destructive thoughts.

Dr. Lester Summerfield (, a clinical psychologist in Westlake Village, recommends assessing the 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking that almost everyone can identify with at one point in time. It’s important to recognize which ones you find yourself guilty of and make an effort to change those negative patterns. Changing negative thought patterns to positive ones help to significantly reduce chronic pain. Please review the distorted thinking patterns 1-7:

  1. Filtering– You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Polarized thinking– The hallmark of this distortion is an insistence on dichotomous choices. Things are black or white, good or bad.
  3. Overgeneralization– You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.  This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event.
  4. Mind Reading– Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. You don’t watch or listen carefully enough to notice that they are actually different.
  5. Catastrophizing– You expect disaster, and at the first moment when hearing about a problem, you start the “what ifs”. What is this happens to me? Tendencies for this behavior result because you do not believe in yourself and your capacity to adapt to change.
  6. Personalization– This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself. The basic thinking error is that you interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth and value.
  7. Control Fallacies There are two ways you can distort your sense of power or control. If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control leaves you exhausted as you attempt to fill the needs of everyone around you, and feel responsible in doing so.

Cognitive therapy addresses the importance of realistic, healthy beliefs and attitudes in order to reduce the physical and emotional suffering of pain. Once you recognize your negative thought patterns, it’s up to you to take control of your pain to live life more fully and pain free.

Dr. Lester Summerfield, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice in Conejo Valley since 1979. Dr. Summerfield has a Ph.D. in Professional Psychology, and a Masters degree in Counseling and Speech. He specializes in cognitive–behavioral therapy for anxiety, depression, pain management, addiction, and support for cancer patients or survivors. Office location in Westlake Village, CA. Visit his website at or call (805) 496-6992 to schedule an appointment.

Please visit Psych Central to learn more about the most common cognitive distortions.

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