Negative Thinking Patterns: 20 Ways to Explore their Accuracy

Changing the way we view events can be a power tool in our coping toolbox. Certainly, negative thinking weighs heavy on our minds and our hearts. Sometimes our negative thoughts are correct. While other times, our patterns of negative thinking lead us to thinking about our situations incorrectly. Since many of us would rather have less stress, sadness, and worry in our lives, examining our thoughts for accurate thinking can be a helpful stress management skill.

How do we know if our negative thinking is right?

First we think about, what we are thinking about.

Ask yourself, am I….

  1. Thinking about the situation in an absolute (all-or-nothing) way?
  2. Thinking about this situation as being very likely to happen, when it is uncommon?
  3. Confusing my thoughts about the situation with the facts?
  4. Making decisions, without considering all the facts?
  5. Blaming myself for something that was not in my control?
  6. Overlooking or not taking enough responsibility for my part of the problem? 
  7. Thinking the situation is all about me, when it probably has less to do with me?
  8. Asking questions even though they do not have answers?
  9. Making myself out to be a horrible person, because of one event?
  10. Thinking about my weaknesses and ignoring my strengths?
  11. Forgetting to use my problem solving and coping skills?
  12. Expecting perfection from myself or others in the situation?
  13. Thinking about the current situation as a “forever event?” Meaning it will continue to happen exactly the same over and over again.
  14. Exaggerating details or results of the situation?
  15. Making this situation a bigger deal than it needs to be?
  16. Open to other possible reasons for my actions or the actions of others?
  17. Finding other ways to view the situation, besides believing my view is the only one?
  18. Thinking about any good things in or that may happen from this situation?
  19. Assuming there is nothing that I can do to change my situation, when in fact there is?
  20. Trying to find parts of the situation that are in my control and steps I can take to make things better?

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