Is Your Thinking Helpful or Unhelpful?
By Dr. Faye Weems-Singleton, LMFT
Do you find that you are often critical of yourself, putting yourself down or blaming yourself for events or situations that are out of your control? Do you feel that bad things happen or happen to you? If so, you may be using unhelpful or negative thought patterns and these thought patterns may interfere with your ability to fully engage in relationships and successful life experiences. In fact, the research shows that there are some forms of depression. Many people are depressed on-going because of their sadness, an inability to concentrate, or because they are focusing primarily on the negative occurrences of their lives and they find it difficult to acknowledge any of their successes and achievements.
Some unhelpful thought patterns include:
· All or Nothing Thinking- deciding that if you can not do it right or perfect, you will not do it at all. Also known as "all or nothing" thinking.
· Emotional Reasoning -Deciding that you feel a certain way about your feelings.
· Personalization -Blaming yourself Craftsmen for something that was not Your Fault. When you are continually blaming yourselves, you are not allowed to take responsibility for their actions.
· Mental Filter- Filtering or paying attention to only the evidence that supports your supposition or thoughts. Mental filtering prevents you from seeing an occurrence or an engagement with another person.
· Overgeneralization - drawing broad conclusions from a single occurrence. When you overgeneralize, you are assuming that one incident is representative of everything else that happens or will happen in your life.
· Unreal ideal- making unfair comparisons between certain individuals and yourself. Making unfair comparisons can leave you feeling inadequate.
These are only a few of the unhelpful thought patterns first recognized in the 1960s by Aaron Beck, a famous American psychiatrist. Beck found that unhelpful thought patterns are automatic thoughts learned and repeated over time as a way of navigating life. However, over time these unhelpful thought patterns can lead to bias in one's emotions, bias in one's decision making and actions and subsequent depression. In order to counter these unhelpful thought patterns, it takes intentional work and practice to the restructure and reframe the thought process. Restructuring one's thoughts; thoughts that may feel appropriate for many years, will require trained assistance. Therefore, if you recognize any of these unhelpful patterns as a part of your thought process, contact your local licensed therapist to assist you in developing more helpful thought patterns. Consulting a therapist regarding your thought process can positively impact your quality of life.