Unhelpful Thinking Styles

When a person experiences an uncomfortable emotion (eg, depression or anxiety), it is usually preceded by a number of unhelpful self-statements and thoughts. Often there is a pattern to such thoughts and these are referred to as "unhelpful thinking styles".

When a person experiences an uncomfortable emotion (eg, depression or anxiety), it is usually preceded by a number of unhelpful self-statements and thoughts. Often there is a pattern to such thoughts and these are referred to as “unhelpful thinking styles”. The patterns of thoughts can often happen outside of our awareness and it’s not uncommon that people use unhelpful thinking styles as an automatic habit. However, you will experience a great deal of emotional distress when you consistently and constantly uses some of these styles of thinking.

 

What are the symptoms?

Unhelpful thinking styles to be aware of:

Unhelpful thinking style Examples of thought patterns
Jumping to conclusions “I always do things wrong”, “I going to forget my whole speech and they will all laugh at me”
Mental filter “today has been terrible”, “I am ALWAYS alone, I have no friends”
Catastrophizing “The plane is going to crash”, “I am going to lose my job and end up homeless”
Black and White thinking “The whole day is ruined now”, “Our relationship is doomed if we fight”
Personalisation “It’s all my fault that everyone had a bad time at the party”, “I am to blame for this”
Unrealistic expectations – “should” and “must” “I SHOULD be better at this”, “She SHOULD know better than that”
Overgeneralisation “things NEVER turn out well for me”, “you NEVER do anything special for me”
Labelling “I’m such an idiot for doing that”, “they are so inconsiderate for changing their plans”
Emotional reasoning “I feel bad so that means today will be bad”, “I know this isn’t going to work out well”
Magnification and minimisation “That doesn’t count, I got lucky”, “they are only saying that because they have to be nice”

How we can help you...

We can help you to identify which unhelpful thinking styles are impacting you. Then together we can challenge your unhelpful thinking styles. Here are some questions that might be helpful to challenge each thinking style:

Jumping to conclusions You know what they say about assuming…
–        How do I know this?
–        What are some alternative explanations for this?
–        If I was feeling differently, would I still think this?
Mental filter Consider the whole picture
–        Am I taking all the information into account?
–        What else is going on that I’m ignoring?
Catastrophizing Put it in perspective
–        What are the possible outcomes – best, worst, most likely?
–        Am I jumping ahead of myself?
–        How important is this in the scheme of things?
Black and White thinking Find the shades of grey
–        Am I being extreme or rigid?
–        Is there an in-between where things are not perfect but not a disaster?
Personalisation Find all the causes
–        Was this entirely my responsibility?
–        What other factors might have affected the outcome?
Unrealistic expectations – “should” and “must” Be flexible
–        Is this a strict rule, or is it a desire or possibility that didn’t work in this instance?
–        Can I replace this with a “could” or “would have liked to”?
Overgeneralisation Be specific
–        Does this apply to all situations or am I overgeneralising?
–        What are the facts and what are my interpretations?
Labelling Judge the situation, not the person
–        Does this behaviour or situation reflect how things always are?
–        Are there examples where this label hasn’t been true?
Emotional reasoning Identify how you are feeling
–        What emotion is currently present in my body?
–        What tool will help me process this emotion so I don’t carry it with me all day?
–        Are there examples where this feeling hasn’t been true?
Magnification and minimisation Acknowledge the good
–        Am I downplaying or ignoring some of the evidence?
–        What are the good things in this situation?

 

If you have been noticing that you or a loved one have been engaging in unhelpful thinking and it is having a negative effect on your life, our therapists at Thriving Minds Psychology Clinic are very skilled and here to help you. You can call our friendly client service team on P: 0428 088 671.

Are you ready to take the next step?

We are dedicated to redefining your experience of therapy. Our client support team is available to support you with questions and enquiries. Booking your appointment is easy, call us on 0428 088 671 or book online by following the link below