The power of thought is truly amazing. We can problem solve, create new ideas, imagine, and reflect. Unfortunately, this same power can lead us into an emotional tailspin and unsure how to break free. Have you ever found yourself wrapped up in thoughts, with each thought piled on increasing the intensity of your emotions? Our thoughts have a direct relationship with the way we feel. Thinking about a recent fun time with family or friends can lead to states of happiness and you may even find yourself smiling a bit. Choose to think about a recent disagreement and your blood pressure may start to increase, muscles tense, and you may find your breathing has shifted.
Stinkin’ Thinkin’ refers to unhelpful thinking styles people turn to despite the fact that the outcome of these thoughts often leads to emotional unrest. Learning about how you think and shedding unhelpful thinking styles can lead to emotional balancing, clarity, and perspective.
All or nothing thinking, also known as black and white thinking, is the inability to see the grey. This thinking in extremes can lead to fear of mistakes and perfectionism. It’s the mindset that tries to convince us that we are a failure or that our perspective is the only perspective.
“Either I do it right or not at all.” “If I’m not perfect, I have failed.” “You don’t see things my way, well you’re wrong.”
Overgeneralizing is when we identify a pattern based on a single event. Using words like everything, always, never, and ever can make us feel irritated, defeated, and hopeless.
“Everything in my life falls apart.” “This always happens to me.” “I will never feel happy.” “Nothing ever goes right for me.”
Mental Filter is the use of only certain types of evidence to build our perspective. This style of thinking often leaves out the positive and neutral evidence and only picks out the negative.
“Imagine you gave a presentation at a workshop and the 20 students who attended provided feedback on the experience at the end of the workshop. When you review the feedback, 19 students gave you outstanding feedback and reported learning a great deal. One of the student’s gave you a poor review and stated you did not seem to know much about the topic. If you were using a mental filter, you would not even feel good about the 19 wonderful reviews, you would focus on the bad and ask yourself what you did wrong.
Disqualifying the positive is just that, This is when we can see the positive, but then convince ourselves it does not count.
In the example of the feedback on the workshop. You would initially connect to the positive reviews, but then convince yourself those don’t matter because the other student did not like the class and you must not have done a good job.