When you experience an unhelpful emotion such as depression or anxiety, it is usually followed by a number of unhelpful self-statements and thoughts.
Some unwittingly use unhelpful thinking styles as an instinctive habit and it is something that they are not always aware of.
Whenever a person constantly and consistently utilises some of these thinking styles, they can often cause themselves a great amount of emotional distress.
In this list, you will notice some thinking patterns and styles that you may have consistently used.
1. All or nothing thinking
Also known as the “black and white thinking.” This thinking style involves viewing only one extreme or the other.
You are either right or wrong, good or bad, and so on. There are no in-betweens, balance or shades of grey.
Example: “If I’m not suited for the job, I have failed” ; “Either I do it right or not at all.”
Seeing a pattern based upon a single event, or being overly broad in the conclusions you draw.
Once you overgeneralise, you take one instance in the past or present and impose it on all current or future outcomes. If you state “You always…” or “Everyone…”, or “I never…”, then you are overgeneralising.
Example: “Everything is always wrong whenever I start working on a project” ; “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
3. Mental filter
Only paying attention to certain types of evidence. This thinking style involves filtering in and filtering out process which is akin to tunnel vision, focusing on only one section of a situation while ignoring the rest.
Generally, this means looking at the negative part of a situation and neglecting the positive parts, and the whole picture is coloured by what may be a single negative detail.
Example: Noticing your own failures but not seeing your own successes.
4. Disqualifying the positive
Discounting the good things that have happened or that you have done for some reason or another.
Example: That doesn’t count even though it’s the right way.
5. Jumping to conclusions
People tend to jump to conclusions when they assume that they know what a person is thinking (mind reading) and when they make predictions about what is going to occur in the future (predictive thinking).
There are two key types of jumping to conclusions:
- Mind reading: Imagining one knows what others are thinking
- Fortune telling: Predicting the future
6. Magnification (catastrophising) and minimisation
Blowing things out of proportion (catastrophising) or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important.
In this thinking style, you magnify the positive attributes of other people and minimise your own positive attributes. It’s as though you are neglecting your own positive characteristics.
7. Emotional reasoning
Assuming that because you feel a certain way, what you think must be true. This thinking style involves basing your view of situations or yourself on the way you are feeling.
For example, the only evidence that something bad is going to occur is that you sense something bad is going to happen.
Example: “I feel bad about it, so I must be the cause of it.”
8. Should-ing and must-ing
Using critical words like “should,” “must,” or “ought” can make you feel guilty or like you have already failed. If we apply “shoulds” to other people, the result is often frustrating.
Even though these statements are not always unhelpful, for example, “I should not work overtime and go back home late”, they can sometimes develop unrealistic expectations.
Assigning labels to yourselves or other people when you make global statements based on behaviour in specific situations.
You might use this label even though there are many more examples that are not consistent with that label.
Example: “I’m completely hopeless when it comes to fixing problems” ; “They’re such idiots for not following my advice.”
Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t completely your fault. Conversely, blaming others for something that was your fault.
This article first appeared in jobstore.com
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