How to Change your Thought Pattern

Hi guys! In my last post, I talked all about identifying your thinking patterns, by getting you to identify which thinking errors you are using the most (available here: ). Now, I am going to show you in a quick overview how to challenge each thinking error.

As I was explaining in my last post, our thinking pattern plays a large role in how we feel from day to day. How we think affects how we feel and behave. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are all interconnected.

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For example, say you were in a clothes shop and you thought you noticed someone look at you, your first automatic thought is: “ohh their properly thinking what am I doing in this shop” or “what’s wrong with me, what are they looking at”.

This will result in you feeling self-conscious and fairly crappy about yourself, then you might end up leaving the shop without buying what you needed/wanted.


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But, as you can see, it wasn’t the situation of being in the shop and someone looking at you that caused these feelings, instead it was your thoughts that caused it.  So, that’s why it’s so important that you identify your thinking errors and to challenge them, in this case it was the mind reading thinking error that was being used.

Below, I have listed a challenging question for the most common thinking errors to help get you started.


Thinking errors

  • Catastrophizing: Assuming the worst possible outcome


  • Labelling: Putting a negative name on you and stating it as if it is a fact


  • Discounting the positives: Recognising only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive.


  • Mind Reading: Guessing what others are thinking or will think


  • Perfectionism: Setting a standard for yourself that you would not set for someone else


  • Spotlighting: The tendency to think that more people notice something about you than they do

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Challenging questions

  • Catastrophizing: What is more likely to happen? How could I cope with it? Or, Do I have any evidence to back up my thought?


  • Labelling: Does this label apply to me all the time, in all situations?


  • Discounting the positives: What went well? What did I do that was okay?


  • Mind Reading: What evidence do I have that this is what people are actually thinking?


  • Perfectionism: Am I expecting more of myself than I would expect of someone else?


  • Spotlighting: What else might everyone be paying attention to besides me? Do people really care that much about what I am doing?


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I hope this post will help you to start challenging the thinking errors that you most use and to in turn help your mood. In my experience of practising counselling and psychotherapy, the 2 most common thinking errors used are Mind Reading and Catastrophizing. I will be doing individual posts on both of them next 🙂

Niamh-Psychotherapist xx 

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