Thinking Patterns and Personal Development.  How to Turn the Negative Ones into Positive?

If want to know the ways your mind is leading you, it’s not enough to explore what you’re thinking. You need to inquire how and ”where” you’re thinking, too.

A pattern or model can be formally defined as a noticeable regularity in the natural and man-made world that repeats itself in a predictable manner. In the same way can behave our thoughts: 

thinking patterns or models are mindsets and type of thoughts that we have everyday. How we think contributes to how we feel and behave day to day.

When we have negative thoughts and irrational beliefs it can really impact our self-esteem and create anxiety. These negative and often untrue thoughts only serve to make us feel bad about ourselves.

The best mental Models (or Patterns) are the ones apply broadly to life and are useful in a wide range of situations.

Of all the mental models humankind has generated throughout history, there are just a few dozen that you need to master to have a firm grasp of how the world works. To quote Charlie Munger, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”

10 Negative and Distorted Common Thinking Oatterns to Change Here and Now

If you recognize one or more this thinking models in the way you think, this could be the perfect moment to start to change them in more functional and positive pattern into a challenging path of personal development:

1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking. You see things in black-and-white categories. You think in absolutes, so you will think or say words such as “always”, “never” or “every”. If you think you have not done your best you will see yourself as a complete failure.

2. Overgeneralization. You see a single negative event such as not getting a job you applied for, as a never-ending pattern of defeat. Thinking “this always happens to me” or “I am no good, nothing good ever happens to me”.

3. Mental Filter. You pick out a single negative defeat and focus all your energy on it. This causes tunnel vision that stops you from seeing the whole picture.

4. Ignoring the positive. You dismiss any positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. By doing this you are maintaining a negative belief which is often contradicted by everyday experiences.

 5. Jumping to conclusions. You make a negative interpretation without any evidence or facts to back it up. This can be broken into subcategories:

  • Mind reading: You believe that you can read a person and therefore conclude if that person likes your or does not like you.
  • The fortune teller: You expect that things will turn out bad and become convinced that your prediction is a fact.

6. Catastrophising or Minimization. You exaggerate the importance of things, such as viewing small mistakes as life-changing events and continually emotionally beat yourself up over these. Or you inappropriately shrink things such as your own positive qualities and achievements.

7. Emotional Reasoning. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true. Such as I feel like a bad friend, therefore I must be a bad friend.

8. Should Statements. If you use the words  “should” or “must”  to motivate yourself, understand that these words create a guilt response.  Ask yourself who says “you should deep clean the house now” or that “you must make sure no-one sees you having a bad day”. All you are doing  is creating judgmental and unforgiving expectations that can lead to anxiety.

9. Labeling. This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your mishap or mistake, you attach a negative label to yourself. Such as “I’m a loser”, “lazy” or “stupid”, stating them like they are facts. By doing this you are affecting your self-esteem and self-worth.

10. Personalisation. You take things personally, believing that other people are blaming you or that you are the cause for a negative situation. This can be done without having any evidence to back this up. If you are prone to this thinking pattern you probably regularly self-talk in a negative way.

You take things personally, believing that other people are blaming you or that you are the cause for a negative situation. This can be done without having any evidence to back this up. If you are prone to this thinking pattern you probably regularly self-talk in a negative way.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a technique used by some counsellors that help their clients to break negative thinking habits.

To help do this try following the three C’s:

  • Catch your thought. By familiarising yourself with the above ten distorted thinking patterns.
  • Challenge your thought. Once you know the patterns, you can begin to recognise your thought patterns may not be hindering you.
  • Change your thought. Become aware if certain thinking patterns resonate in particular situations or with certain people. By becoming more aware of your triggers will help you in changing your thinking patterns.

Tips You Can Try Right Now to Improve a Positive Thinking Pattern

Take ten minutes and sit somewhere quietly. Get a notebook and pen.

Writing down your thoughts helps you to distant yourself from them and give you clarity. This will help you to think more objectively about your thoughts which is helpful in breaking negative thinking patterns.

Think back to a recent event or person that triggered feelings of anxiety, low mood, anger or sadness. Now ask yourself the following:

What was the event/situation/person?

Who was I with?

How was I feeling?

What did I see/hear/read?

When did my mood change?

What thoughts was I thinking?

What possible thinking distortions was I using?

What would be a better way to deal with this event/situation/person in the future?

Learning to free your mind of old feelings and thoughts and to concentrate on the here and now will help you to live life more freely. Appreciating things in your life as they enter your life will help you to stay in the here and now. There is no other time other than the time that exists right now. The past has gone and the future has yet to come. The only moment you have control of is the moment you are living at this very second as you are reading or listening to this and every second thereafter as they occur. 

As a creator your mind is working with you generating further mental models in order to create what you want in your life. If your mind is constantly distracted into negative or in the pattern of distorted models, it cannot focus entirely on your desires and so the energy given to it fades and you carry on receiving the experiences you have always had. To change this, you have to be prepared to let go of all that you have previously done in this moment and reinvent new patterns of thought. New thoughts that are in line with the life you wish to live.

Author: Cristina Capucci

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