The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Thinking stinky thoughts

Several SMU students and faculty members gathered in Memorial Health Center on Friday to listen to the CAPS program, “Stinking Thinking.”

Psychology intern for Counseling and Psychiatric Services Peter Thomas spoke about the seven most common cognitive distortions that lead to negative thinking and behavior. Thomas says that thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and attitudes “might drive and push you to how you act and behave.”

He called the first cognitive disorder “black and white thinking.” Believing the world works in only one of two ways, really great or really horrible, can lead to anxiety, says Thomas.

“We can generate a lot of anxiety by thinking in black and white because you never know which one it is going to be, and either way it’s going to be big,” he said.

The audience smiled when Thomas brought up the example of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. What made him so gloomy? Thomas nicknames Eeyore’s disorder “The Dark Filter.”

People who have this type of negative thinking always see the bad and have feelings of depression, explained Thomas.

“There is a swimming pool of negativity and you just jump right in and do the backstroke,” he said.

Always wanting to be perfect is another type of thinking common among students that can lead to negative behavior. The audience gave Thomas reasons why this type of thinking is hard on emotions. “It burns you out,” and, “You can never be perfect,” were a couple of responses.

“Give yourself some permission to screw up,” Thomas said. “Sometimes if we have beliefs about ourselves to be perfect, we expect others to be perfect too, and our relationships suffer.”

The good news is there is a light at the end of the tunnel for these disorders; students feeling these types of negative thinking should understand there are many resources available. Thomas said most of his patients found that changing their thinking was easier than trying to quit smoking.

The Memorial Health Center provides free therapy for students concerned with negative thinking, and Thomas is available for answering any questions.

“There are plenty of resources in the community,” Thomas said, and students should utilize these to create positive thinking.

The hard part about these issues, Thomas said, is that most cognitive disorders are something you could have had all your life, or something that just happened last week and you don’t even realize it.

“I really want this program to make people more aware of their thoughts, beliefs and attitudes, and how those can affect their behavior,” Thomas said.

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