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Published on February 14, 2019

graphic of a stormy mind

Don’t Get Trapped in Twisted Thinking

Anyone can get in the rut of thinking negatively. Often we are unaware of how these negative thoughts can affect us in our day. These forms of twisted thinking can not only help you identify what may be the culprit, but find healthy ways to stop negativity in its tracks!

All or Nothing: Black and white thinking causes discouragement and promotes frustration because it doesn’t allow you to see any middle ground.

Example: you take on a project at work and when team members share ideas for you to improve you consider it a complete failure.

Instead: Add a comment/suggestion for how to phrase your thinking in a more positive way.

Overgeneralization: Using words like “always” or “never” expands one specific issue or problem to one with no end in sight.

Example: I ALWAYS get off track with my eating during the holidays. I will NEVER reach my goal.

Instead: Replace this negative thought by staying specific to the present concern and focusing on what is happening now.

Jumping to Conclusions: This involves judging a situation without getting all the facts, causing you to feel anxious, sad or upset.

Instead take a step back and consider all alternative scenarios.

Example: “I am nervous to apply for this job because I don’t know how to accomplish half of the tasks that they want me to do. It will probably be too complicated.”

Instead: “Yes this new position will challenge me, but it will be a good opportunity for me to learn new skills.”

Magnification: This happens when you unfairly compare your “worst” to someone else’s “best.”

Example: It is easy to compare where you are in a fitness journey with a family member, coworker or friend but everyone will make progress at a different pace.

Instead: Focus more on your own achievements while cheering on your family and friends in their goals too.

Should Statements: These statements put a heavy demand and expectation on you and others.

Example: I should be doing this but…

Instead: Try replacing these thoughts with what is more realistic.

The next time you feel caught in the trap of twisted thinking remember it can happen to everyone. Those who surround you can greatly affect what is happening around you. By bringing awareness to these twisted thinking traps, we take a step in the right direction for a positive start to 2019.

Source: “The Feeling Good Handbook,” David D. Burns, MD

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