by SHELLEY BRUCARIn the Breeze

“IN THE BREEZE” fiber art by Shelley Brucar


Let’s further explore negative thinking.  Did you come up with some examples of automatic (negative) reactions to events in your life?  If you have not had a chance to think about this, do it now.  What events/circumstances provoke negative, and often irrational, thought patterns for you?  Is it -the flashing lights in your rearview mirror?  – the phone call from an aging parent?  -criticism/feedback from someone at work or from a friend?  -the end to a relationship?  -a “funny” look or comment from a friend or coworker?

Here are some very common, and very distorted, thought patterns that are counterproductive because they make us feel bad and stressed-out.  And these thought patterns are not necessary because if examined, you can find fallacies in all of them.

1.  ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING:  Everything is good or bad, black or white; there is no middle ground.  You’re either perfect or worthless, and any small problem escalates to gigantic proportions.  For example, “Susie doesn’t agree with me; she must hate me.”

2. OVER-GENERALIZATION:  Reaching a general conclusion based on a single event.  For example:  “I forgot to get gas yesterday; now I’ll be late; the whole day is ruined.”

3. CATASTROPHIZING:  Magnifying the severity of events; expecting disaster.  For example:  “If I don’t get this job, my career is over.” or “Nothing good ever happens to me.”

4. PERSONALIZATION:  Thinking everything others do or say is a reaction to you.  For example:  “Susie hasn’t called yet today; she must be mad at me.”

5. BLAMING:  Holding others responsible for your problems.  For example: “If s/he wouln’t nag so much, I would be happier.”

6. DISCOUNTING WHAT IS POSITIVE: No matter what you do, it’s never enough.  “Yes I got a good grade/performance review, but it could have been better.”

7. LABELING: Identifying yourself with negative labels.  “I’m stupid/incompetent/a failure.”

8. SHOULDS: Strict rules about how you, and others, should behave.  “I should always be available when a friend, parent, spouse, child, etc. needs me.” or “I should have more patience.”

Look at the events in your life that you named at the beginning of this post.  What negative/distorted thinking patterns are at work?

Now look for the fallacies in this distorted thinking.  Ask yourself, where is the evidence that this is true?

To be continued…


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Filed under Art Stuff, Reframe, Stress

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