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the years, we tend to get into unhelpful thinking habits such as those described
below. We might favour some over others, and there might be some that seem
far too familiar. Once you can identify your unhelpful thinking styles,
you can start to notice them – they very often occur just before and during
distressing situations. Once you can notice them, then that can help you to
challenge or distance yourself from those thoughts, and see the situation in a
different and more helpful way.
all these can be summed up in Fact or Opinion?
When we notice only what the filter allows us to
notice, and we dismiss anything that doesn’t ‘fit’. Like looking through
dark blinkers or 'gloomy specs', or only catching the negative stuff in our
‘kitchen strainers’ whilst anything more positive or realistic is ignored,
dismissed or we make excuses for
Am I only
noticing the bad stuff? Am I filtering out the positives? Am I wearing those
‘gloomy specs’? What would be more realistic?
Assuming we know what others are thinking
(usually about us)
assuming I know what others are thinking? What’s the evidence? Those are my
own thoughts, not theirs. Is there another, more balanced way of looking at it?
Believing we know what’s going to happen in the
thinking that I can predict the future? How likely is it that that might really
Seeing only the good and positive aspects in others, and comparing ourselves
negatively against them
I doing that ‘compare and despair’ thing? What would be a more balanced and
helpful way of looking at it?
Putting ourselves down, self-criticism, blaming
ourselves for events or situations that are not totally our responsibility
go, that internal bully’s at it again. Would most people who really know me say
that about me? Is this something that I am totally responsible for?
Shoulds and musts
Thinking or saying ‘I should’ (or shouldn’t) and
‘I must’ puts pressure on ourselves, and sets up unrealistic expectations
Am I putting more pressure on
myself, setting up expectations of myself that are almost impossible? What
would be more realistic?
Imagining and believing that the worst possible
thing will happen
thinking that the worst possible thing will definitely happen isn’t really
helpful right now. What’s most likely to happen?
I feel bad so it must be bad! I feel
anxious so I must be in danger
because it feels bad, doesn’t necessary mean it is bad. My feelings are just a
reaction to my thoughts – and thoughts are just automatic brain reflexes
Mountains and Molehills
the risk of danger, or the negatives. Minimising the odds of how things are most
likely to turn out, or minimising positives
exaggerating the risk of danger, and minimising the evidence that it's most
likely to be okay? Or am I
exaggerating the negative and minimising the positives? How would someone else
see it? What’s the bigger picture?
Evaluations / Judgements
Making judgements about events, ourselves,
others, or the world, rather than describing what we actually see and have
an evaluation about the situation or person. It’s how I make sense of the
world, but that doesn’t mean my judgements are always right or helpful. Is
there another perspective?
Black and white thinking
Believing that something or someone can be only
good or bad, right or wrong, rather than anything in-between or ‘shades of grey’
aren’t either totally white or totally black – there are shades of grey. Where
is this on the spectrum?
Current situations and events can trigger
upsetting memories, leading us to believe that the danger is here and now,
rather than in the past, causing us distress right now
just a reminder of the past. That was then, and this is now. Even though this
memory makes me feel upset, it’s not actually happening again
Perhaps all these can
be summed up in Fact or Opinion?
Print as combined Unhelpful Thinking Habits with Alternative Thoughts (as above)
.PDF (adobe) file
Unhelpful Thinking Habits .PDF
Print Finding Alternative Thoughts as .PDF (adobe) file
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