To see how your mind can lead you astray it’s not enough to look at what you’re thinking; you need to examine how you’re thinking, too.

First, ask yourself, is most of your thoughts positive and optimistic, or negative and pessimistic? A significant amount of our well-being is tied to what’s on your mind, and what you think is determined by how you think.

Below are some faulty thinking patterns, and ideas on how you can start to change them:

1) All-or-nothing thinking: You see people and situations in either/or categories. For example, a night out is “the best” or “the worst”. Challenge it thinking by generating one possibility that exists between the two options, and realize that our lives unfold in shades of gray.

2) Overgeneralizing: You draw general rules from specific events and apply them across unrelated situations. For example, when you don’t get a job you want, you think, “People don’t like me". Challenge it by telling yourself “This one outcome is just that; one outcome.”

3) Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive statements or occurrences by insisting they “don’t count”. Challenge it by imagining what your life would be like if you believed the words were true.

4) “Should” statements: Your internal dialogue is full of statements that include the words “should” or “must.” Challenge it by replacing it with “can,” “choose to” or “decide to.”

There is a lot to experience in life; all you need is to break out of thought patterns that are keeping you artificially constrained and distracted.


Inspired by: Ted - 5 irrational thinking patterns that could be dragging you down — and how to start challenging them, by Joan Rosenberg