Negative Thinking Patterns, Self-Talk and Beliefs

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Negative Thinking Patterns: How to identify, understand & break them

The topic at a glance

  • Negative thinking patterns & negative self-talk – where do the come from and how to deal with them

  • 8 common negative thinking patterns

  • The solution to negative thinking patterns

by Simon Mott

Group Therapy on Identifying Negative Self-Talk and Beliefs at Hope Rehab ThailandI once heard someone say addicts are “egomaniacs with an inferiority complex”. This struck a chord with me. In my head, I can still have negative thinking patterns, a dialogue that includes unhelpful self-talk springing from irrational core beliefs.

After years of CBT and working on my negative thinking patterns I realise at a deeper level my negative core beliefs turn in on me and degrade me. But before they do this they turn on the world and other people. I read about ABC model, and it goes something like this…

Thought 1 – anxiety at situation (catastrophising)

Thought 2 – anger at others (blaming)

Thought 3 – self-pity with self (self-loathing)

Some common negative thinking patterns

Why does it always happen to me?

They call this personalising; I call it bad luck or superstitious thinking, probably not rationally looking at the real causes of a situation. Apply unfairness rather than taking responsibility.

 I don’t care…

This is usually denial because we all do care at some level. However, it helps relieve uncomfortable feelings when we don’t get what we want.

Life is shit anyway!

Filtering out the positive for sure, this is an effort to absolve us from our part. The universe has conspired against us. That is why our life is not satisfactory.

 The blame game

It is an auto-reaction. It is instinctive to blame, including blaming others for their sins. But it is for the most part unhelpful, as when we do this all we do is give all our power away to the one we blame.

 Judge, jury and executioner

Judging is instinctive but also negative when we judge others self-righteously as we are setting ourselves up to be a hypocrite. Applying humility would be better.

 Must and should

Rigid thinking leaves us cornered like a rat sometimes. Flexibility is not weakness it gives us options.

 It is all going to go wrong anyway so why bother?

This is strategic pessimism. Maybe it is guarding against disappointment. To stay safe, we reduce our expectations to such a low point we are paralysed.

 I can’t trust or rely on anyone

High expectations on other human beings are a common mistake, and this is why we suggest getting a higher power that cannot let us down.

Negative Thinking Patterns – The Solution

So what do we do now we have identified our negative thinking patterns? I suggest writing them down on a piece of paper and then next to them write down the healthy thoughts. These will be your affirmations, and it really helps to repeat them daily for a while. Very soon you will not only remember them but, automatically, when you get negative thinking patterns, your new, improved thought patterns will counter them.

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