What are your thoughts?

DO YOU HAVE EXAGERATED OR IRRATIONAL THOUGHT PATTERNS?

These thought patterns or distortions impact mental and emotional well-being. When left unchecked, these negative habitual thinking patterns can lead to anxiety, depression, and unnecessary stress.

Because these thoughts are automatic and run beneath the level of our consciousness, it can be a challenging task to identify them. However, in order to experience as sense of integrated wellness, it is important to challenge these negative, faulty thinking patterns because our perception of things becomes our reality.

Here are 10 examples of Harmful Thought Patterns: (see how many you have)

  1. Negative Filtering – You filter out any positives while magnifying the negative. You find something wrong in everything.
  2. Always Being Right – Critical of others and believes that you are always right.
  3. Black or White Thinking – Polarized and unmovable. You think in a ‘black or white’ perspective – no ‘gray’ area.
  4. “Shoulds” – You determine that your own set of unwritten rules “should” not be broken by anyone! Things should be this way or should be that way.  You are more concerned with what “should” be than what is. 
  5. Jumping to Conclusions – You automatically make assumptions about why others behave the way they do without taking time to validate their assumption.  
  6. Blaming – You think others are the reason for all of your pain and hardship, or you blame others for everything that goes wrong. 
  7. Slanted Fairness – You have an unmovable set or rules regarding what’s fair and unfair. You become upset when your concept of fairness is broken by others.
  8. Catastrophizing – You have a worse-case ‘disaster mentality’.
  9. Emotional Reasoning – You believe that what you feel must be the absolute truth.
  10. Personalization – You think that you alone are to blame for any bad-turn of events in your life. This personalization of everything leads to deep feelings of insecurity.

Don’t worry if you are someone who has these thought patterns. I am going to give you some suggestions on how you can start to eliminate them.  Remember: You get what you focus on so if you continue to focus on these types of thoughts you will get the same results. 

First – Negative Filtering: Encourage yourself to identify three positives each day, and every night for a week, before going to bed write the three positive things in a journal. Maybe even write about things you are grateful for.

Second – Always being Right: Encourage yourself to try a more open mindset for one week. Within this mindset challenge agree to listen to the ideas and opinions of others’ without responding positively or negatively.  Just listen. Maybe take a different approach and look at it from their perspective.

Third – Black or White thinking: Encourage yourself to think about at least three people you admire and ask how these people would view the same situation. Doing this helps broaden perspective and adds some middle-ground to the ‘black or white’ mentality.

Fourth – Shoulds: Encourage yourself to reevaluate your personal set of rules. Ask yourself questions to help determine if any of your “rules” are causing more harm than good.

Fifth – Jumping to Conclusions: Encourage yourself to validate your assumptions.  Encourage yourself to ask others what was meant in an attempt to discover what is really going on. Try to allow the other person to explain or do your best to make sure you understand.

Sixth – Blaming: Encourage yourself to question this mindset when possible. Ask yourself to examine your pain in terms of responsibility as opposed to blame.  You will need to see that within responsibility there is power, and within blame there is anger and remorse.

Seventh – Slanted Fairness: Explain your definition of fairness.  Understand the fact that fairness can be a subjective term, and that the interpretation of fairness can be influenced by many factors.  Try to formulate a fairness statement that is written from the perspective of someone else.

Eighth – Catastrophizing: Encourage yourself to Play the Script until the End (see video in your head) to determine how bad the w0orst-case scenario really is. Is it really ever that bad?

Ninth – Emotional Reasoning: Encourage yourself to question your feelings by asking, “Is this really so?” “What else could be true?”

Tenth – Personalization:  Remember it takes two people to tango. Please recognize the connectivity between the many influences that can comprise a single event.  Rarely is one person responsible for an entire situation gone sour. Encourage yourself to reflect on the situation and to examine all the influences.

GOOD LUCK! And don’t be so hard on yourself. You have been thinking these ways for a long time and it takes a lot of practice to change.

P.S: It’s okay to ask for help.

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