Unhealthy thinking happens when our egos become sick. That can happen from any type of trauma. Most of us have lived through our share, collectively and personally. Fortunately, if you can recognize your unhealthy thinking patterns, you can begin to heal.
This list will help:
All or Nothing Thinking
Also called “Black and White thinking”, this is when you see things as either being all one way or another. If you find yourself thinking thoughts such as “I’ll NEVER get a better job”, “They ALWAYS forget to include me….” then that is a form of this type of cognitive dysfunction.
To heal: Reframe your thoughts, such as “I have gotten jobs in the past and if I keep trying, I eventually find a better job.” Or “They forget to include me sometimes, I will ask them to please remember to let me know what’s going on.”
Jumping to Conclusions
Your mind can start filling in the blanks for circumstances and events in a way that can wreak all sorts of havoc if you allow it. An example of this is if you hear your significant other speaking on the phone in hushed tones and you convince yourself they are cheating on you. Then, you find out later, they were planning a surprise party for you.
To heal: Learn to ask before you decide what is happening. While you may be highly intuitive, you might find that your intuition combined with an unhealthy ego makes more things seem about you that really aren’t, such as someone’s bad mood that they are trying to hide.
Negative Fortune Telling/Aweful-izing
Similar to jumping to conclusions, you create how circumstances are going to develop in a negative way without taking it into consideration that there are other possible outcomes.
To heal: When you find yourself projecting negative outcomes, stop and think about how that is your fearful ego speaking and not the only realistic outcome.
Positive Fortune Telling
Building the future up in an overly optimistic fashion can create dissatisfaction with the present and disappointment if things don’t work out as grandly as you had thought they would.
To heal: Be positive, but be realistic by reminding yourself that anything is possible in the future.
You believe your thoughts are true because they feel true despite conflicting evidence.
To heal: Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts or your eelings and look for proof before you form an opinion.
Discounting the Positive
Refusing to look at the good in the bad. This makes everything seem entirely bad when there could actually be something positive in it.
To heal: Challenge yourself to look for the good in every person and every situation.
Making something big out of something small. For example, you see your partner flirting innocently with a coworker and by the time you are able to talk about it you find yourself accusing him/her of having a sexual affair with the coworker.
To heal: Challenge yourself to keep things in perspective.
When you put a label on yourself or others in a globally negative way without taking time to consider the whole person. For example, thinking of yourself as being stupid when you are actually smart, but simply lacking information about some topics.
To heal: Whenever you catch yourself labeling yourself or another person, stop to think that most people have many labels which are both good and bad and start to think about those instead.
When you buy into things your thoughts are telling as being true although you wouldn’t believe it at other times. For example, thinking that you will NEVER feel better, when you know that some days you do feel better than other days.
To heal: Ask yourself, “What are the facts?”
When you become sure you know what someone else is thinking even if they haven’t communicated with you. An example of this would be if you think, “My boss thinks I’m an idiot.” When you really have no idea what your boss thinks about you.
To heal: Ask yourself if you have compelling evidence about what someone else is thinking. When in doubt, ask questions.
This is when your mind links things that have nothing to do with each other. For instance, if you get mad at your boss and then spend all your money on lottery tickets.
To heal: Consistently ask yourself if your responses are relevant to the reality of what’s going on.
Demanding things of yourself or others that isn’t reasonable, such as insisting your significant other is home by 5:30 when he doesn’t get off work until 5:00 and has to drive in heavy traffic which sometimes causes him to be late.
To heal: Look at what is going on around the rules you are making and make concessions for how they may not always be possible to keep.
Print a list of these unhealthy thought processes and when you start to slide into negative thoughts or feelings, question yourself to see if you are allowing these thought processes to take over.
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash