Unhelpful Thinking Patterns

If you read my previous blog post, you are beginning your journey to regaining control of your thoughts. Just like any process of change, the first step is identifying and acknowleding what is unhelpful and unhealthy in your current thought processes. Below are first seven common Unhelpful Thinking Patterns. Check out the next blog post to learn the last six Unhelpful Thinking Patterns. 

      1. All or Nothing Thinking:
You think of things in “black-or-white” or rigid categories. If something is less than perfect, you see it as a total failure.

Example: You get nine A’s and one B on your report card. You believe this a terrible report card

      2. Over Generalizing: You think of a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.

Example: You stumble on your way into work and believe you are a clumsy, stupid loser. 

      3. Mental Filtering: You dwell on a single negative detail, and ignore moderate or positive things that may occur. 

Example: You mispronounce one word in a speech, yet you receive many unsolicited praises from your colleagues for the same speech. You ignore the praise and view it as a total failure.

       4. Disqualifying the Positive: You reject positive experiences, …“they don’t count”. You maintain a negative view in spite of contradictory evidence.

Example: Several colleagues ask you for tips on delivering good speeches, telling you they want to emulate your excellent public speaking ability. You still believe that your shortcomings outweigh your abilities, and distrust your colleagues’ motives for asking you for help. 

       5. Mind Reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and don’t bother to check this out with them.

Example: A party guest is looking elsewhere as you are talking to her. You assume she is bored and wants to get away from you, so you leave. (Another friend later tells you that the party guest was hoping to exchange phone numbers with you, liked you very much and wonders why you left so abruptly). 

       6. Fortune Telling: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and feel convinced that your prediction is a fact.

Example: You turn down a party invitation, convinced that no one would be interested in talking to you anyway.

       7. Catastrophizing: You believe the worst-case scenario will happen.

Example: Someone turns you down for a date. You are convinced you will lead a life of loneliness.