Don’t get stuck in your negative thinking!!

stuck.jpgPositive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will ~ Zig Ziglar

What feelings, thoughts, emotions and beliefs are being generated in your mind?

As discussed earlier in the week, before you can break free from negative thoughts, ideas, and beliefs about yourself, your body, and your life, you must first become “aware” of the thoughts that you think on a regular basis.

Negative thoughts and emotions let us know that something in our lives is out of balance. They can provoke us to action, help us make decisions and alert us to emotional needs that are unmet.

Each and every day you are constantly making decisions, taking action, thinking thoughts that can change your perspective and your life.

The fifteen styles of distorted thinking listed below demonstrate the multiple ways that our thinking can lead to negative moods.  

The next time that you experience a negative mood check and see if any of these distorted thinking patterns come into play.

  • Filtering:  You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.  A single detail may be picked out, and the whole event becomes colored by this detail.  When you pull negative things out of context, isolated from all the good experiences around you, you make them larger and more awful than they really are
  • Polarized Thinking:   Things are black or white, good or bad.  You tend to perceive everything at the extremes, with very little room for a middle ground.  The greatest danger in polarized thinking is its impact on how you judge yourself.  For example—You have to be perfect or you’re a failure.
  • Overgeneralization:  You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence.  If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.  ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized.  This distortion can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event.
  • Mind Reading:  Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do.  In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.  Mind reading depends on a process called projection.  You imagine that people feel the same way you do and react to things the same way you do.  Therefore, you don’t watch or listen carefully enough to notice that they are actually different.  Mind readers jump to conclusions that are true for them, without checking whether they are true for the other person.
  • Catastrophizing:  You expect disaster.  You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s.”  What if that happens to me?  What if tragedy strikes?  There are no limits to a really fertile catastrophic imagination.  An underlying catalyst for this style of thinking is that you do not trust in yourself and your capacity to adapt to change.
  • Personalization:  This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself.   For example, thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you.  You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.  The underlying assumption is that your worth is in question.  You are therefore continually forced to test your value as a person by measuring yourself against others.   If you come out better, you get a moment’s relief.  If you come up short, you feel diminished.  The basic thinking error is that you interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth and value.
  • Control Fallacies:  There are two ways you can distort your sense of power and control.  If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate.  The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you. Feeling externally controlled keeps you stuck.  You don’t believe you can really affect the basic shape of your life, let alone make any difference in the world.  The truth of the matter is that we are constantly making decisions, and that every decision affects our lives.  On the other hand, the fallacy of internal control leaves you exhausted as you attempt to fill the needs of everyone around you, and feel responsible in doing so (and guilty when you cannot).
  • Fallacy of Fairness:  You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair, but other people won’t agree with you.  Fairness is so conveniently defined, so temptingly self-serving, that each person gets locked into his or her own point of view.  It is tempting to make assumptions about how things would change if people were only fair or really valued you.  But the other person hardly ever sees it that way, and you end up causing yourself a lot of pain and an ever-growing resentment.
  • Blaming:  You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem.  Blaming often involves making someone else responsible for choices and decisions that are actually our own responsibility.  In blame systems, you deny your right (and responsibility) to assert your needs, say no, or go elsewhere for what you want.
  • Shoulds:  You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.  The rules are right and indisputable and, as a result, you are often in the position of judging and finding fault (in yourself and in others).  Cue words indicating the presence of this distortion are should, ought, and must.
  • Emotional Reasoning:  You believe that what you feel must be true—automatically.  If you feel stupid or boring, then you must be stupid and boring.  If you feel guilty, then you must have done something wrong.  The problem with emotional reasoning is that our emotions interact and correlate with our thinking process.  Therefore, if you have distorted thoughts and beliefs, your emotions will reflect these distortions.
  • Fallacy of Change:  You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.  The truth is the only person you can really control or have much hope of changing is yourself.  The underlying assumption of this thinking style is that your happiness depends on the actions of others.  Your happiness actually depends on the thousands of large and small choices you make in your life.
  • Global Labeling:  You generalize one or two qualities (in yourself or others) into a negative global judgment.  Global labeling ignores all contrary evidence, creating a view of the world that can be stereotyped and one-dimensional.  Labeling yourself can have a negative and insidious impact upon your self-esteem; while labeling others can lead to snap-judgments, relationship problems, and prejudice.
  • Being Right:  You feel continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.  Having to be ‘right’ often makes you hard of hearing.  You aren’t interested in the possible veracity of a differing opinion, only in defending your own.  Being right becomes more important than an honest and caring relationship.
  • Reward Fallacy:  You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You fell bitter when the reward doesn’t come as expected.  The problem is that while you are always doing the ‘right thing,’ if your heart really isn’t in it, you are physically and emotionally depleting yourself.

For more on healthy living with a positive approach Click here to get a complimentary online hand-guide of “The Livings Key Principles – For Creating Wholeness, Peace and Health From The Inside Out!”

Healthy Blessings,

Gena Livings

Source:  healthythinking skills 

References*From Thoughts & Feelings by McKay, Davis, & Fanning. New Harbinger, 1981. These styles of thinking  (or cognitive distortions) were gleaned from the work of several authors, including Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck, and David Burns, among others. 2002005/2006, Eastern Washington University5/2006, Eastern Washington UniversityResources:Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David Burns, M.D. New York, Avon Books Mind Over Mood, by Christine Padesky and Dennis Greenberger. New York; Guilford PressKitchen Table Wisdom, by Rachel Naomi Remen. New York: Riverhead Books Learned Optimism, by Martin E. P. Seligman. New York: Pocket BooksLife on Fire: A Comedy of Terrors, by Evan Handler. New York, Henry Holt & Co.


  1. This is a great reminder to put things in perspective & pay attention to unhealthy thought habits! Thanks.
    Sonya Mann recently posted…LimoncelloMy Profile

    • Hi Sonya!
      It’s true that we are often unaware of the negative messages that we send to ourselves. Awareness is “key” so that we can shift our perspective and replace a negative thought with a positive one every time we realize that we are thinking a negative thought.

      Thank you so much for your comment today!
      Healthy blessings,
      Gena 🙂

  2. lovely writeup to eliminate those unwanted thoughts. positive thoughts definitely help us live a life filled with less troubles and be more healthy.
    Amar Naik recently posted…Wonderful Start To Weekend – Thanks to FoodPandaMy Profile

    • Hi Amar,

      Changing the negative thoughts we have about ourselves to positive ones takes time and persistence. We can use the 15 styles of distorted thinking to help strengthen our awareness.

      Thank you so very much for your comment today!
      Healthy blessings,
      Gena 🙂

  3. Reading over these styles is a great way to reflect on how we look at things. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Catherine recently posted…What’s for Dinner? Wednesday: Nutty SalmonMy Profile

    • Hi Catherine,
      Thank you for reading my article today and commenting!

      I’m always happy to share! 🙂
      Healthy blessings,

  4. Excellent post and really could serve as a daily reminder. Sharing on FB.

    • Hello Magical Mystical Mimi!
      Thank you for stopping by and I’m so glad that you enjoyed my article today!
      Healthy blessings and have a wonderful day!
      Thank you also for sharing my article on FB!
      Gena 🙂

  5. Hi Gena. Well I think I’ve done all of these things at some point or other in the past!! I was having a little giggle to myself as I was reading it. It’s made me realise just how ‘bad’ I was and how glad I’m not in that place anymore. Polarised thinking was a new phrase for me. Although I’ve not heard the word, I was a very black and white person. The trouble with that is, as you say, there’s no middle ground, there’s no room for manoeuvring. I am a lot more flexible in my thinking now, for which I am very grateful. Things don’t have to be either/or…they can be both at the same time too! Great post, it’s given me lots to think about and be grateful for. Blessings, Andrea

    • Hello Andrea!
      I can totally relate to what you are saying. I use to be very Polarized in my thinking as well until I learned that being flexible is much healthier.

      We are often faced with situations where things don’t turn out quite the way we wanted. The best way to survive these “unwanted” variations is to be flexible. Adapt to the change. Run with the change. Adjust to the change. If we are flexible, we are better equipped to adjust to those things we can’t control.

      Thank you so very much for your comment. Your comments are “always” appreciated!
      Healthy blessings,
      Gena 🙂

  6. Beautiful Gena

    What a great article. I was looking forward to your blog post and this one made me smile. It made realize how far I have come over the last few years. These four jumped out at me Filtering: Polarized Thinking Personalization that I have made strides in. I was looking to see where telling myself a story that is untrue, not factual, making it worse than is fits but wasn’t sure. I get grade of an A in story telling to myself.

    I have learned how awareness is so important to growth. I had no idea of so many things. If you are aware then you can create change. If there is no awareness no change of thinking can take place.
    Thank you again for the reminder not to get stuck in negative thinking but to think positive and sharing your wisdom. This is life changing.
    Sending you love and light.
    bonnie recently posted…Enhance Your Well-Being and Nourish Your Body NowMy Profile

    • Hello Bonnie,
      Yes, awareness is key! As you develop self awareness you are able to make changes in the thoughts and interpretations you make in your mind. Changing the interpretations in your mind allows you to change your emotions. Self awareness is one of the attributes of Emotional Intelligence and an important factor in achieving success.

      Thank you so much for your comment tonight
      Healthy blessings,
      Gena 🙂

  7. What an excellent article, Gena! I didn’t realize there were so many different styles of distorted thinking! This was very helpful. I’ve been guilty of these but as you said, awareness is the key to change. We can transform these distortions when we are aware of them and take the necessary steps to change.

    Great post!
    Penny McDaniel recently posted…The Have vs. Have Not MindsetMy Profile

    • Hello Penny! 🙂
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed this article today and were able to gain some new insight for the various patterns of distorted thinking.
      I think that we have all been guilty of thinking these ways from time to time but like you said, awareness is key in order to take the necessary steps to change.

      Thank you so much for commenting,
      Healthy blessings,

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