Thinking Styles

We have to understand that thoughts have power over our feelings. There are certain patterns of thinking that we need to know to determine their effect on our behavior, to realize what the process is of transforming these thoughts in our mind into negative feelings and behaviors. Feelings begin with thoughts, and once we become aware of our thinking patterns, the contents of our thoughts and increase our awareness of knowing them, we can start to change them.

Unhealthy thought patterns (cognitive distortions):

They are errors in thinking that can lead to wrong assumptions, as they are false personal views, which have not been validated. We tend to interpret events in such a way that they fuel emotions like anxiety, depression, and anger. For example: “I am a useless person”, “No one loves me” and "I cannot do anything right."

 

Cognitive distortions may be positive or negative:

Positive distortions: They are made by exaggerating the positive aspects of the situation and not considering the negative aspects. Negative distortions: Exaggerate the negative aspects of the situation and not consider the positive aspects.

Unhealthy patterns of thinking fuel depression and anxiety, and thus to reduce these feelings in these current circumstances in which we live in, it can be very helpful to recognize and respond to these patterns:

 

Examples of these patterns:

Mind reading

Which assumes you know what other people think. Sometimes we know that certain behaviors, words, and reactions can give us clues about what someone is thinking.

For example

When we're walking through the corridors at work and see our supervisors talking to a colleague, our mind may start to drift into an unhealthy thinking pattern without evidence, which is considered mind reading. We might say to ourselves that they are talking about me, the upcoming promotion, and my abilities to work in that job. This pattern produces feelings of anger and frustration, but in reality we cannot read other people's minds and your constant involvement in mental reading becomes distorted, making you feel very miserable.

How can I respond?

Your awareness of this pattern may be enough to stop and change this unhealthy pattern, so set a constant reminder to yourself when you start this pattern that we simply cannot know what is really going on in the minds of others. It may also help to gather clear evidence, rather than constantly speculating and assuming, and asking others directly about what they have in mind about the topic.

Black and white thinking:

Is to see things "in black and white", meaning that you think that you are successful or unsuccessful, and you do not have a middle ground or you do not see the grey areas.

For example:

"Not getting on the dean's list at university means that you failed in your education and all your efforts were not fruitful."

How can I respond?

Try to make an effort to find the shades of grey. Like, "I failed one interview question, but the rest of my performance was strong." Or, "One piece of cake doesn't erase the success I've had in my diet. I've made big changes and can expect things to not always go perfectly."

Excessive generalization:

This type of thinking is that you draw the wrong conclusions based on one situation that happened to you.

For example

When you fail a task after several tries, you may think that you are not good at anything. In this case, you are overgeneralizing.

How can I respond?

What are the costs and benefits of this situation?

What is the evidence for this prediction?

Are you basing your conclusion on a lot of relevant facts or just one or two points?

Is there important evidence against this particular thought?

Based on the current facts, do you think everyone is drawing the same conclusion?

Choose a friend. If this friend comes to you and says the same thing happens to you, what would you say to them? Is it different from what you say to yourself now?

Do you think you are relying on actual evidence, or is it possible that you are allowing your feelings to guide your thinking about this?

Negative filtering (looking only at the negative side)

It is that your focus is entirely on the negatives or taking negative details and amplifying them, and you rarely notice the positive aspects in the situations that you are going through, so that your vision becomes the bad side. Thus, this leads to distorting your vision of the truth or your vision of it becomes dark.

How can I respond?

Look for situations where not everything is bad. And most importantly, focus on the things you should be grateful for.

Ask yourself if other people you know would reach to the same conclusion given the circumstances?

Is the evidence all really bad, or are there varying degrees?

Jumping to conclusions

You rush into a negative interpretation despite the lack of concrete facts that convincingly support your conclusions, where you think you know everything.

For example

For example, you can expect that the current conditions for the Corona virus will worsen, and you will feel convinced that your expectation is a given fact.

How can I respond?

What is the evidence for and against your expectations? It is important to examine the actual evidence and, most importantly, the quality of that evidence.

Are there benefits to your negative expectation? Does it prepare you for a difficult task? What about costs? Instead, is your anticipation making you feel helpless or low in morale? Are you too anxious?

How difficult is the expected result to occur? What are all the things that must go wrong for this prediction to come true? Now, list the largest number of things that might happen that will prevent this prediction from happening. Then make a list of the things you can control that you can use to influence the situation in your favor.

 

Are there likewise plausible possible results? Look for three positive outcomes, write down how these other outcomes might actually happen, and focus on these different perspectives.

Emotional justification

You give your feelings an opportunity to guide your interpretation and your analysis of reality, so you believe that what you are feeling is necessarily real.

For example

I feel so frustrated, I think I will fail to care for my children. You assume that your untrue feelings reflect the state of things around you - "I am feeling something, so it must be true."

Exaggeration  (exaggeration)

Catastrophic thinking! You expect that a disaster will happen to you no matter what, you exaggerate the bad expectations and only see the bad things.

For example

My son was late in returning home, something bad happened to him, or someone kidnapped him. "

How can I respond?

Ask yourself first, what about this horrible situation? Have you dealt with similar situations in the past? If so, did you survive? If you survived (and presumably did), how? What did you do to overcome the difficulty?

How do you think you will feel towards this situation a month from now? Do you imagine that your feelings will be as strong? What do you think you would probably do going forward? How about a year from now, how do you think you will think and feel about the situation? Will your feelings be strong? Two years from now? Challenges often lose their emotional intensity and perceived significance over time. Think carefully about what you most worried about five years ago and how it happened. Do you even remember what worried you back then?

 

Be mindful of what you want in your life. What positive experiences can you get? What steps can you take to improve your life? Take into account aspects of your life that you take for granted rather than disasters, and cultivate gratitude.

 

If you were to realize ten years from now that this "disaster", although it was not part of your plan, was actually the best thing for you at that time, what positive things could come out of this? What opportunities might this situation present that you might not be able to access otherwise?

Apps that may help you:

CBT Thought Diary

Mindfit

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