Sometimes it can be easy to think that our thoughts don’t matter. They do! Our thoughts directly effect how we feel and behave. This month, I thought it would be important to talk about our thoughts, and unhealthy thinking. Below is a list of 10 common unhealthy thinking styles, or cognitive distortions. Next month, I’ll talk about ways to combat these unhealthy thinking styles.
All or Nothing thinking (Black and White thinking): There is no grey area. “If I’m not perfect, I’ve failed.”
Mental Filter: Only paying attention to some of the evidence. “He doesn’t love me.” Meanwhile there is evidence to say otherwise.
Jumping to Conclusions (Mind Reading or Fortune Telling): Assuming that we know what the other person is thinking and/or predicting the future. “I know they think I’m a loser.”
Emotional Reasoning: Making the assumption that because we feel a certain way that it must be true. “I feel embarrassed, so I must be stupid.”
Labeling: Putting labels on ourselves or other people. “I’m stupid. They’re a loser.”
Overgeneralizing: Finding a pattern based on a single event, or making conclusions. “I did not pass this test, therefore, I will not go to college.”
Disqualifying the Positive: Discounting the good things that happen. “I got a 90% on a test, but I’m only going to focus on the 10% that I got wrong. So that part doesn’t count.”
Magnification (Catastrophizing and Minimization): Blowing things out of proportion or shrinking things to make them seem not as important. “He only hit me twice.”
Should/Must: Using critical words like “should” or “must” puts unhealthy expectations on ourselves, and makes us feel guilty or like we have already failed. “I should have known” “You shouldn’t have talked to her.”
Personalization: Taking responsibility or blaming self for something that isn’t completely your fault. “This is all my fault.”
Remember, we all do these, maybe even each one everyday! Awareness is the key to change. Be mindful of your thoughts, and how those effect your feelings and behaviors each day, and next month we will talk about ways to combat these thoughts.