The Thought of it All…

Do you feel like nothing is bringing you happiness or “going your way”? Maybe it’s at your job, or with your living situation, or in your love life. Things just don’t seem to be going the way you hoped they would. Is the world really against or could it be that your way of thinking is doing more harm than good?

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In the Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention (1997), the author outlines 15 types of problematic thinking that could be affecting your present and future. Very often, people underestimate the power of their thoughts and how it can influence their behaviors and emotions. When you begin to understand & take ownership over the relationship between your mind, body and spirit you have a better chance of navigating through this crazy thing we call life. Let’s take a look at the list of problematic thoughts and pay special attention to the ways of thinking you find yourself doing.

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Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground, it’s “all or nothing”.
Overgeneralization: Coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.
Mind Reading: Without them saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to tell how people are feeling toward you.
Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what ifs”. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?
Personalization: Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc.
Control Fallacies: If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.
Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people won’t agree with you.
Blaming: You hold others responsible for your pain. Or, you take the other track and blame yourself for every problem or reversal without regard to external cues.
Shoulds: You have a list of ironclad “rules” about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.
Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true-automatically. If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.
Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.
Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.
Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.
Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

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We can all identify with at least one of these problematic ways of thinking and recognizing it is the first step to making positive changes. The next step is for you to pay closer attention to when these thoughts come up. (1) Notice the thought, (2) recognize what is happening around the moment that the thought arises, and (3) come up with a plan to replace this problematic thinking with a more helpful thought.

Make an effort to write down the problematic thoughts you have and a healthier thought you can replace it with. This way, you are more prepared to positively reframe these negative thoughts whenever they pop up. And always keep in mind that your thoughts are the seeds that grow the tree of action and bear the fruits of positive and negative outcomes. Work hard to nurture the soil and seed of thought so that all that grows from it has a positive foundation.

If you’d like to continue the conversation about this topic, comment below. You can also email me at: thementalcouchpotato@gmail.com for further conversation or inquiries.

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