02 Nov Breaking Free of Negative Thoughts – Part 1:
Our minds have clever and persistent ways of convincing us of something that isn’t really true.
These inaccurate thoughts reinforce negative thinking. If you can recognise them, you can learn to challenge them.
Here are some common thought distortions:
- Jumping to conclusions: Mind reader – “She didn’t say hello so she must not like me.” Fortune-teller – “I didn’t go to that interview because I would never have gotten that job”
- Black and white thinking. Seeing everything as all or nothing, without any other options. “You’re either with me or against me.” Or “I didn’t pass my driver’s test today so I never will get my driving licence.”
- Mental Filter. Choosing to only see the negative side. “My partner never does anything around the house, he can’t even empty the bin without replacing the bin liner properly.”
- Disqualifying the positive. “You’re only saying that to make me feel better, you don’t really mean it.”
- Catastrophising. Assuming the worst possible outcome is going to happen. “If my girlfriend lies to me I will never recover and I will never trust anyone ever again.”
- Fallacy of Fairness: Believing in a just world. “I’m a good person so nothing bad can ever happen to me.”
- Perfectionism: Striving for standards that are beyond reach or reason. “I must be perfect at all times and I’m not allowed to make one mistake ever.”
- Labelling: Attaching a global and often negative label on yourself based on specific behaviours. “I failed that exam therefore I am stupid.”
- Magnification: Exaggerating the negative and reducing the positive. “I messed up that slide during my presentation so it was a complete disaster.”
- Minimisation: “Everyone said the presentation was great, but they didn’t even notice my mistake so what would they know!”
- Emotional Reasoning: Believing something is true because you feel it strongly. “I feel like a failure so I must be a failure.”
- Can’ts, Shoulds, Nevers & Musts: Rigid rules you impose on yourself and others. “I can’t ever go outside without make up”, “I should always be strong and never show weakness”, “I must not cry.”
- Approval Seeking. Doing or saying something purely for the praise, validation or to be accepted into the group. “I got you your favourite coffee”, “Can you have a look at this, I never know if it’s good enough and I really rely on your opinion”, “Yeah, I hate that too.”
Do any of these ring true to you? Did you recognise these thought distortions in yourself or others? The first step towards a more positive mindset is being able to notice when these thoughts occur and recognise that they are not necessarily an accurate assessment of what’s really going on!