5 Negative Thought Patterns Holding You Back

Posted in Mental Health, Self Love by
The original list featured in Dr. Burns The Feeling Good Handbook, which itself was derived from the book Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond by J. Beck and A. Beck, includes 10 negative thought patterns/cognitive errors. These cognitive errors were identified in efforts to increase awareness of common ways that negativity seeps into our minds, and in doing so, prevent it from affecting us.ย  I shortened the list down to 5, as many of them overlap.
5 negative thought patterns holding you back

1) Catastrophizing

Catastrophizing is a dash of pessimism mixed with a sprinkle of self-doubt and a whole lot of anxiety. This common cognitive error causes us to exaggerate possible future problems. More often than not, the catastrophizing is done without any evidential basis indicating the presence or future presence of a problem. This negative thought pattern is rooted in fear and therefore is incredibly inhibitory.

2) Black or White Thinking

Balance ain’t easy. Our brains love to categorize things and neatly place them on a mental spectrum. It’s easy to identify what lies on either extremes of the spectrum, but hard to discern what falls in the middle. As eager-to-learn elementary school students, we are taught to identify antonyms with proficiency- good opposes bad, dirty opposes clean, small opposes big. As often quick-to-judge adults, we subconsciously label people/things with similar speed.
Dichotomous thinking is what judgment thrives off of. This thinking doesn’t allow room for
sort ofs, maybes, ifs, perhaps, kind ofs, or places in between. Applying this sort of thinking to ourselves can be self antagonizing; only ever thinking of ourselves very positively or very negatively results in very turbulent emotions.

3) Magnification/Minimization

Also known as mental filtering, this cognitive error/thought pattern is exhibited when our mind perseverates on a certain negative occurrence. Magnifying on this negative incidence, we tend to neglect thinking about anything positive (minimization).
Being cognizant of this negative thought pattern enables us to more clearly see everything that is going on around and within us on a level playing field.

4) Emotional Reasoning

Contrary to popular belief, human beings aren’t primarily rational. We are in fact swayed by fleeting emotions a majority of the time. Emotional reasoning is pretty much when we allow our emotions, however skewed they may be, affect what we think is true. If we feel bad for failing, emotional reasoning tells us that this bad feeling implies that we are a failure.

5) Imposed Standards- “Should” Statements

We say these “should” statements in efforts to make ourselves better and impose certain expectations upon ourselves… but they usually just imbue us with a sense of guilt that can tarnish our self-perceptions. There is nothing that we SHOULD do, but there are infinitely many things that we COULD do. Rephrasing “shoulds” into “coulds” relieves you of guilt while motivating you to act based on your best judgment.
Did any of these negative thought patterns remind you of ways you have talked to yourself before? Now that you know they are common to pretty much every human, how can you remind yourself to ignore these cognitive errors?
Let me know!

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

January 29, 2018
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  • Reply Sidra Shakoor

    This is a great post! Positive thinking allows one to be grateful for all things they already possess. I recently read a book called The Secret which basically says that positive thinking can change your life. In my opinion, positive thinking is key to not allow the great masses of negativity affect us nowadays!

    February 5, 2018 at 9:04 pm
  • Reply Honey

    wow, this is a great post ๐Ÿ˜€
    I’m definitely the first one – you captured the definition so perfectly!

    xo Honey – blog Royal LifestyleTwitterInstagram

    February 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm
    • Reply Zahra

      I’m so glad you enjoyed! Thanks for your support ๐Ÿ™‚

      February 6, 2018 at 5:01 pm
  • Reply Nina | Lemons and Luggage

    Very interesting! I’ve been putting more effort into thinking positively this year. I love the idea of replacing the word “should” with “could!” It really makes a difference.

    February 3, 2018 at 3:37 pm
    • Reply Zahra

      It really does! Heard it on a positivity podcast and I was like totally shook lol

      February 5, 2018 at 4:02 pm
  • Reply susie liberatore

    It is all about mindset, I have noticed that!!

    January 30, 2018 at 3:33 pm
    • Reply Zahra

      Yes, ma’am! Mindset is key.

      February 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm
  • Reply Sincerely Nicki

    I’m such a passionate individual I sometimes allow my emotions to get the best of me. I’m trying to find balance with the way I react to certain situations. Thanks for sharing these.

    January 30, 2018 at 1:15 am
  • Reply Yissel

    I like that everything was summarized very informatively.

    January 29, 2018 at 6:07 pm
  • Reply Heather Gilbert

    Sometimes we all become stubborn and stuck in our ways. It’s good to get some perspective.

    January 29, 2018 at 5:55 pm
  • Reply Johanne

    I get stuck in some of these patterns sometimes and it’s definitely holding me back. Sometimes I wish I could just be positive and all that, but it’s a process ๐Ÿ™‚

    January 29, 2018 at 4:12 pm
  • Reply Nadene @ Unshakeable Calm

    A great summary of some of the most common unhelpful thinking traps.

    January 29, 2018 at 12:32 pm
  • Reply Wendy | Life and Business with Wendy

    This is a brilliant post. Negative thinking stops so many people from living a life they want.

    January 29, 2018 at 12:26 pm
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