Identifying your Thinking Patterns

Hi guys! Today I am writing about how to identify your thinking patterns. Thinking patterns are your type of thoughts that you use everyday. Our thinking pattern plays a large role in how we feel from day to day.

I will explain the thinking errors that are most commonly used that trigger anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. These inaccurate thoughts really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

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Have a look and see which ones are most common for you, this will help break your thinking habits that contribute to your feelings. This techniques is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Technique.

 

Thinking Errors

Meaning

All or Nothing Thinking Things are seen in black and white categories. Thinking in absolutes such as “always”, “never”, or “every”. “I never do a good enough job on anything.”
Catastrophizing  Seeing only the worst possible outcomes of a situation
Mind Reading Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “She would not go on a date with me. She probably thinks I’m ugly.”
Magnification and Minimization Minimizing the importance of events. One might believe their own achievements are unimportant, or that their mistakes are excessively important.
Should Statements The belief that things should be a certain way. This can lead to judgemental and unforgiving expectations that can create a lot of anxiety.
Mental Filter  You pick out a negative single event and dwell on it
Playing the Comparison Game Comparing yourself to others and needing to keep up with others to feel good about yourself
Disqualifying the Positive Recognising only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive. One might receive many compliments on an evaluation, but focus on the single piece of negative feedback.
Overgeneralization Making broad interpretations from a single or few events. “I felt awkward during my job interview. I am always so awkward.” An inaccurate thought like this, will cause you to feel awkward all the time.
Labelling  You label yourself or others by terms such as “lazy”, “stupid”, “fat”, “loser”, stating them like they are facts. Labelling can affect your self-esteem and self-worth.
Emotional Reasoning  The assumption that emotions reflect the way things really are. “I feel like a bad friend, therefore I must be a bad friend.”

 

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Why are these thinking patterns important to be aware of?

How we think affects how we feel and behave, as well as what happens in our body. Our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations and behaviours are all interconnected.

Can you take a complement? Imagine that someone says: “you’re looking well today”. If you think they are only saying that, they don’t really mean it (thinking error: discounting the positive/mind reading) then you are likely to continue to feel low.

If, on the other hand you can say “thank you”, and believe that you are truly looking well, then such a compliment is likely to improve your mood.

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If you are prone to catastrophizing (always thinking of the worst possible scenarios) then changing this aspect of your thinking is going to be important in helping you to reduce your heightened emotion. If you discount the positive aspects of yourself, changing that thinking error should improve how you feel about yourself.

Think back to some recent events that triggered feelings of anxiety, low mood, anger or stress in general. To start identifying your thinking patterns ask yourself the following:

  • What is the event/situation
  • How am I feeling?
  • What thoughts am I thinking?
  • What possible thinking errors am I using?

 

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There are two reasons for getting you to write down your thoughts like this:

1. Writing things down at the time they happen (or as close to the time as possible) will provide more accurate information about your thoughts and possible thinking errors because the event will be fresh in your mind.

2. Writing things down helps you distance yourself from your thoughts. This will help you think more objectively about your thoughts and the situation, which will be very helpful in breaking the thinking habits contributing to your feelings.

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I hope you this post helped you to be able to identify and become aware of your thinking pattern. In my next post I will show you how to challenge your thinking errors and to develop alternative or coping thoughts.

Niamh-Psychotherapist xx 

3 thoughts on “Identifying your Thinking Patterns

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