Unhelpful Thinking Styles Pt. 1

Unhelpful thinking styles

The core principle of cognitive behaviour therapy is that what we think and do affects how we feel. It’s our interpretation of events that cause us to feel the way that we do, not the events themselves. Every one of us sometimes thinks in ways that affects our mood negatively. But have you ever noticed patterns in your unhelpful thinking?

Our minds are constantly busy trying to make sense of the world around us. However, trying to interpret every single event separately, as they come, would be exhausting and our minds are a bit lazy, so they’ve made short cuts. This leads to us thinking often in biased ways.

In order to save energy our minds group things together when they recognize patterns. We can call these groups unhelpful thinking styles.

I’m going to walk you through 10 unhelpful thinking styles, 5 now and 5 in pt. 2 of this post.

Unhelpful thinking styles

1. All or nothing

This thinking style leads us to thinking and acting in extremes. When all or nothing thinking is present we often fail to see the middle ground. Everything is black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, perfect or a failure.

2. Over-generalizing

Drawing overly broad conclusions based on single events. For example, failing a maths test and thinking that you will never pass maths.

3. Mental filter

This is when we only pay attention to certain types of evidence while failing to notice others. We are filtering out information based on what we want to hear or see. This way we often fail to see our successes and only focus on the negatives.

4. Disqualifying the positive

Dismissing positive information or the good things that have happened or we have done as something that “doesn’t count” or “happened by accident”.  

5. Jumping to conclusions

1+1=3, right? With this one we tend to draw conclusions that are not fair based on the facts. This shows in two ways:

  • Mind reading: where we think we know what others are thinking
  • Fortune telling: thinking that we can predict the future.

Do you notice your mind being lazy in one of these 5 ways?

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