Unhelpful Thinking Habits
We can often get into unhelpful thinking habits which cause us more anxiety. Some of these may seem far too familiar to you! They very often occur just before and during distressing and worrying situations, like exam time. But once you can identify your unhelpful thinking styles, and start to notice them, then you can challenge or distance yourself from those thoughts, and see the situation in a different and more helpful way.
Mental Filter – you might only notice what your filter wants or allows you to notice and blocks out things that don’t fit this idea. It is like looking down a tunnel or looking through dark and gloomy spectacles (the opposite to rose tinted spectacles!) You only see the negative things and dismiss the things that are more positive – and probably more realistic!
Judgements – you make judgements or assumptions about people, things or the world in general rather than seeing things you actually have evidence for. What you think and believe may not actually be real.
Mind reading – you assume you know what other people are thinking – usually about you – just because that is what you think.
Emotional reasoning – “I feel bad so it must be bad”; “I feel anxious so there must be something to be anxious about”. The fight and flight reasoning kicks in before you actually check whether there really is any danger to feel anxious about!
Prediction – you believe you know what will happen in the future – with no evidence to back this up.
Making mountains out of Molehills – you either exaggerate the negatives of, or the risk in a situation, or you instead minimise the positives, making things seem worse than they actually are.
Catastrophising – you believe the worst will happen. You might use words like ” this always happens” or “it will never happen”. This is linked to …
Black and White thinking – believing there is good and bad, right or wrong – rather than considering the shades of grey between.
Compare and Despair – you only see the bad in yourself and compare this to what you perceive is the good in others.
Self criticism – you put yourself down, and blame yourself for bad situations and difficult circumstances when it is not (or certainly not entirely) your fault.
Should and Must – if you think you should or must do something then you are putting yourself in an unrealistic situation with high expectations, and causing far more anxiety for yourself than you need to.
Memories – some things can trigger memories that make you feel as though the ‘danger’, the thing to be anxious about, is here and now and not in the past.
So – how are you thinking and feeling? Do you recognise any of these unhealthy thinking habits for yourself? Think about what is concerning you and see if any of these thinking patterns fit. Chances are that what is worrying you is not actually real and you have no evidence for it.
Start challenging those unhelpful thinking habits now!