Although our world hasn’t always talked about mental health enough, we know that everyone struggles with mental health. Just like anything health related, it takes ongoing learning and practice to be healthy both physically and mentally.
A great place to check in with yourself is the thoughts in your head. Sometimes we get so busy living life that we don’t stop to check how we are thinking about things. Negative thinking can impact your mood, self-worth, and emotional health.
Take a minute to check in with yourself on any negative thought traps you fall into. Below are 10 common thought traps that commonly catch us all. Knowing these and being aware can help us be mindful so that we can get out of the traps and back to positive thinking!
All-or-Nothing Thinking – This is where we think things are either good or bad, safe or dangerous, success or failure. This way of thinking tents to leave out the in between and can be unrealistic and limiting.
- Example is a friend gets mad at you and you assume everyone hates you.
Negative Filter– Focusing on the negative, unfair, scary things and ignoring anything positive.
- An example would be focusing on all your mistakes instead of the things you did well.
Overgeneralization-Making sweeping judgements about ourselves (or others) based on only one or two experiences. These thoughts typically contain the words “always” and “never.”
- Example is you get an “F” on your assignment and you believe you’ll never succeed at anything
Fortune Telling- Believing you can predict the future. But you can’t because you don’t have a crystal ball and aren’t a fortune teller.
- Example is thinking “No one is going to talk to me at the party.”
Mind Reading– when we believe that we know what others are thinking and assume that they are thinking the worst of us. The problem is that no-one can read minds and we can never really know what others are thinking!
- Example is thinking everyone is talking about you behind your back.
Catastrophizing– Imagining that the worst possible thing is about to happen, in reality the worst-case scenario usually never happens and even if it did you’d probably be able to cope.
- Example is thinking you will fail the test and then get kicked out of school and disowned by your parents.
Personalization– Believing that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to something you’ve said or done. You end up taking everything personally when in reality it’s nothing to do with you
- Example is a friend getting upset and you thinking its your fault.
Labeling– Attaching a negative label about yourself or someone else rather than acknowledge it was just a single event or mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and we’re way too complex to be described by one word.
- Example is thinking your a failure instead of knowing you got one bad grade.
Emotional Reasoning – Taking our emotions as evidence for the truth. When you use emotional reasoning, whatever you’re feeling at the time is believed to be true automatically and unconditionally, regardless of the evidence.
- Example is feeling lonely and thinking you’re a loser
Should Statements- having rules for how you, or others, should and shouldn’t behave. When our expectations fall short, we feel disappointed, frustrated, anxious, and even angry with ourselves.
- Example is thinking you should never eat chocolate.
Don’t get discouraged if you identify with these negative thinking traps. Now that you are aware, you can catch the traps in the future!
Recognizing our negative thoughts is the first step to changing them and thinking more positively. Positive thinking habits like practicing
gratefulness and recognizing strengths can help build positive thinking muscles!