Don’t you just hate it when people say mean things about you? It’s much worse when you’re the one saying them—or thinking them. And yet we all do it. It’s quite common for us to slip into “negative” patterns of thoughts, which are like poison to our emotions. Here are a few of the most common disruptive patters of thinking. Any sound familiar?
- Filtering: magnifying the negative details and ignoring the positive aspects of a situation. EX: Instead of celebrating that you got the job you wanted, and that you’ll have a raise, you focus only on the idea that you’ll have to drive six miles farther in traffic, which means you’ll have to get up half an hour earlier, and that means you probably won’t sleep well at night….
- Overgeneralization: Because it happened once, it will happen again (especially in bad situations). EX: “I went out on a date that ended badly, so that must mean they’ll all go bad. I might as well stop trying.”
- Castastrophizing: What if the worst? (this is my favorite, probably because I hear my friends use it all the time). EX: What if the car breaks down on the way to work? What if my phone dies? What if someone stops to help, but they turn out to be a serial killer and they kidnap me and no one realizes I’m missing…
- Polarized Thinking: (Here’s one I’m guilty of) Everything is either good or bad. You’re either perfect or a failure. EX: "If I don’t make an A on this assignment, I must be stupid."
What to see more? Check out 15 Common Cognitive Distortions. If you find yourself guilty of any of these, the best thing you can do is notice when you’re doing it. Identify it as false, illogical, or silly, and talk yourself back to a more rational way of thinking. Good luck quieting those voices!