Unhealthy Ways of Thinking and What to Do Instead

Posted on August 10, 2017

Unhealthy ways of thinking arise when a person is tackling anxiety or in a high emotional state. Here are some unhealthy patterns of thinking and how you should frame your thoughts instead.

1. Black-and-White thinking.
Also referred to as all-or-nothing thinking, this type of thinking occurs when a person does not see other perspectives to an issue. For example, a man gets angry at his wife because he feels she “never listens” to what he is saying. However, his wife may have taken his opinion into consideration many times before but he is too emotional in the moment to see that. Black-and-White thinking affects good communication and problem-solving as the person is unable to see different solutions. Instead of this, try being accurate. For example, your wife is only not listening to your problems right now. This reminds you that there are times when she does listen to you.

2. Predicting the future.
This refers to thinking negatively about things that may not come true. For example, getting a bad review at work and thinking you will lose your job. Thinking like this may add or lead to depression and anxiety. To counter this kind of thinking, be realistic instead. Getting one bad review may not be the end of your career. It may also be an opportunity to improve your skills and work by speaking to a supervisor.

3. Mindreading.
This is especially bad in a close relationship, when one party assumes the other person knows what they are thinking. For example, a couple always splits chores when they have guests over. One of them does the chores as usual, assuming the other would know to do their part. They then get angry when the chores are not done as they feel the other should have known what they were thinking. This creates tension in the relationship as the person who didn’t do the chores would feel that it was not their responsibility. To avoid this, always be clear about what you want the other party to do instead of assuming.

4. Ignoring the good.
Negative things are easier to recall than the positive. Hence, it is much easier to focus on that. A perfectly good day filled with enjoyable events can be ruined by just one negative incident. Try focusing more on the positives, especially when they far outweigh the negative events.

5. Labelling, generalising, or calling names.
This happens when a person feels that their actions and thoughts reflect who they are. Some examples that are said to others or themselves are “loser” or “stupid”. However, a singular event does not define a person. Just because a student fails a test does not mean they are stupid. Using these words hurts people’s self-esteem. Avoid labelling people, especially when you have nothing nice to say.

Unhealthy methods of thinking can be destructive to people. Changing how we think makes a difference in how we view and interact with ourselves and others.

Category(s):Self-Care / Self Compassion

Source material from Psych Central

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