Whenever you experience any kind of emotion, this emotion is always accompanied by a set of thoughts. These thoughts are constructed of words and statements that often manifest in the form of questions. You ask these questions in order to make sense of your emotions and your circumstances. If you ask the right kinds of questions, you will get the right kinds of answers that will help you move forward in a positive way. However, if you ask the wrong questions, then you will often end up creating additional problems for yourself.
This is in a ways a very simplified explanation of our thought-process. This is how we think and how we respond to circumstances. When we choose to think in optimal ways, we can often get the best out of our abilities. However, when we think in limiting ways we often end up making the situation far worse than it should be. You therefore have both helpful and unhelpful thoughts that direct your behaviors, decisions and actions throughout the day.
There are 10 common unhelpful thinking styles that we tend to use:
- Mental Filter: Here you tend to filter things in and out of your conscious awareness. This is a form of “tunnel vision” where you only tend to focus on a part of something and you ignore the rest.
- Jumping to Conclusions: Here you tend to jump to unjustified conclusions. You make quick assumptions about how things are and what they’re going to be like in the future (predictive thinking), or you will assume that you know what someone else is thinking (mind reading).
- Personalization: Here you tend to blame yourself for your problems and for everything that goes wrong in your life. You might for instance continuously blame yourself for your misfortunes and bad luck.
- Black and White Thinking: Here you tend to only see the extremes of a situation. You either see one extreme or another and this is why it’s called black and white thinking.
- Catastrophising: Here you tend to completely blow things out of proportion and make them out to be a lot worse than they should be.
- Overgeneralization: Here you tend to reference your past in order to make assumptions about the present.
- Shoulding and Musting: Here you tend to put unreasonable demands and pressure on yourself and on other people to do certain things. You tend to say, “I must… I should… You must… You should…”.
- Labeling: Here you tend to label yourself or other people in certain ways based on behavior in very specific situations.
- Magnification and Minimization: Here you tend to magnify the positives attributes of another person, while at the same time minimizing your own positive attributes.
- Emotional Reasoning: Here you tend to base your view of a particular situation in accordance with how you’re feeling. Therefore your feelings dictate how you perceive a situation despite evidence to the contrary.
These unhelpful thinking styles are built upon automatic habitual patterns that you pick-up over a lifetime. These thinking styles become rather problematic when you consider the fact that they direct your behavior at an unconscious level of awareness. Therefore if you’re in the habit of using some of these unhelpful thinking styles on a consistent basis, then you can be assured that you are not living up to your full potential.
- Read more: Unhelpful Thinking Styles