Negative Thinking Patterns

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Disqualifying the Present: “Don’t tell me to relax, I can relax later. But first I must do this in good time”

Dwelling on the Past: "I often think about the reasons I am unhappy, perhaps that way I will understand what went wrong and maybe then will I feel a little better."

Pessimism: "Life is meant to be hard. We are not meant to be care free and happy. People who are always happy are misguided and I don’t trust them. When something good happens I am always waiting for something bad to follow."



Consequences of Negative Thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is the most common type of negative thinking, and it is a common cause of anxiety, depression, and addiction.

All-or-nothing thinking leads to anxiety because you think that any mistake is a failure. You worry that any mistake may expose you to criticism or judgment. Therefore you don’t give yourself permission to relax and let down your guard.

All-or-nothing thinking can lead to depression because when you think you have to be perfect, you feel trapped by your own unrealistic standards. Feeling trapped is one of the known causes of depression.

All-or-nothing thinking can lead to addiction because anxiety or depression feels so uncomfortable that you may turn to drugs or alcohol to escape.



Four Types of Negative Thinking

Negative thinking not only leads to unhappiness, it is also stops you trying to make changes for the better. Negative thinking also restricts the opportunities for self-change because when you think in an all-or-nothing way, any change feels impossible. You can’t see the small steps, and you don’t have the energy to take big steps, therefore you feel stuck.



Other Common Types of Negative Thinking

Excessive Need for Approval: “I do my best to be nice to everybody and if people don’t like me it causes me great unhappiness. When I upset somebody, it’s probably my fault.”

Mind Reading: “I can always tell when people don’t like me by how they behave with me.”

Should Statements: “Everybody should be fair, and when they are not they should be punished.”


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