Unhelpful Thinking Styles – Part II


In the previous post, I discussed 3 out of 10 unhelpful thinking styles: mental filter, jumping to conclusions and personalization.  In this post, we will discuss 3 more unhelpful thinking styles.  If you recognize yourself in doing any of these, then you might be human!  Best way to change these around to your benefit is to be aware of when you are using them.  When we recognize something, then we get to determine if we want to change it or not.  Onward ho to the next three unhelpful thinking styles!

4. Catastrophising.

Do you find yourself making something bigger than it actually is?  Then you are catastrophising.  An example may be: “Oh no!  My child scratched his/her knee on the playground.  What if this scratch turns into something more serious!  I must take him/her to the Emergency Room!”  A scratch does not mean that the child needs to attend the Emergency Room where you will pay $200-500 just for a band-aid.  This example represents how something so miniscule can be blown out of proportion very quickly.  When we reach catastrophising, it seems that anything and everything is out of our control.  Relax, take a few deep breaths and realize it is not the end of the world.

5. Black and White Thinking.

It’s either all or nothing, black and white… no in between.  Actually, there are in between areas, it’s just that we choose to not see it when we work ourselves into black and white thinking.  All in between areas get thrown out the window.  An example of black and white thinking is: “I received a C on my mid-term exam.  I am no good, I might as well quit now, since future attempts would be futile.”  Just because you received a C does not mean that you failed at school or life.  One way to look at this C is needs for improvement, not automatic failure.  Unfortunately, some of us look at mistakes as life threatening and quit all together to avoid future mistakes.  This kind of thinking is unhelpful and will definitely hold you back from your potential.

6. “Shoulding” and “Musting”

“I should” or “I must” statements are unreasonable demands that you place on yourself.  I admit to using this unhelpful thinking style a lot.  An example of “shoulding” and “musting” is: “I should have taken care of my to do list (15 items) yesterday.  I can’t believe that I did not get them done!  Now I have more items to add to the list and I am feeling exhausted.  Screw it, I’ll get them done tomorrow.”  First off, having 15 items on your to do list can cause anxiety.  Examine your to do list and see if all of them are reasonable.  Are there some items that can hold off for another week?  Are there items that involve other individuals in completing the task?  Taking the tasks apart and not viewing them as a whole can assist in completing them.  Allow yourself flexibility and feelings of accomplishment when they get done, on their timeline, not necessarily on yours.

Stay tuned for the last four unhelpful thinking styles!  Have you noticed yourself in any of these thus far?  If so, which ones and how have you been able to turn your thinking around?

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