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styles of thinking

Your thinking can take the form of an inner dialogue that provides you with a running commentary on yourself, your life and your relationship to the world. For instance, should your core beliefs have it that you are not really good enough, or that things just never seem to go your own way, your thinking, and even your perception of the world, will reflect your particular take on things. This will, in turn, almost certainly serve to trigger some unhelpful emotions. Usually, we do not stop long enough to consider the real reasons that we feel, or even react, the way we do, simply allowing ourselves instead to be at the mercy of these unconscious forces.

Challenging yourself to a more realistic viewpoint can, on the other hand, significantly improve the quality of your life as well as your relationships - both with yourself and with others. We know that certain thinking styles tend to promote emotional health, while others may lead to a negativity that can infect every part of your life. For this reason, it may be worthwhile to consider your own thought patterns. Although you may not be able to change such things as your past or your genetics, you will find that you are, in fact, able to change the way you think and the way you deal with certain charged situations.

Here are a number of examples of unhelpful thinking styles:


all-or-nothing thinking

Also known as black-or-white thinking, this pattern of thought will cause you to focus on the extremes. You may find yourself frequently using such words as “always”, “never” and “forever”. It could, for example, cause you to believe, unrealistically, that a particular person either passionately loves you or absolutely hates you. If you are dieting, it might cause you to feel that a single slip-up is reason enough for you to abandon your attempt at a healthy lifestyle.

It will have you believe that falling short of perfection means complete and utter failure. It might also have you believe that you are either totally responsible for a particular situation or that you are completely blameless. It does not really allow for a more likely grey, middle-ground conclusion - an option that falls somewhere between either extreme.

It is more helpful to measure things in terms of degrees; much in the way a thermometer would measure degrees of temperature. This more gentle approach would help you to keep things in proper perspective, persevere with what is worthwhile and better cope with any tricky situation that may arise.



This sort of thinking occurs when you experience a situation as being almost impossible to handle, despite the fact that, in reality, it is only just a little uncomfortable. It is the proverbial mountain-out-of-a-mole-hill. Should this negative pattern take hold, it might cause you to habitually imagine the worst possible outcome to situations, however unlikely they might be. If you are wishing to break this type of thinking, it is useful to remember that catastrophic thoughts remain just that – thoughts, which may come and go. They are not the situation itself.


fortune telling

Fortune telling occurs when you constantly predict outcomes, which unless you are in possession of a particularly accurate crystal ball, is not a very useful strategy to adopt. Frequently, such predictions are, of course, likely to be inaccurate, which means you run the risk of letting them prevent you from taking action and even from experiencing things and situations that may well be turn out to be worthwhile or beneficial. It is often better to simply let the future unfold without trying to guess how it may turn out.

Remember that your past experiences do not necessarily determine your future ones, so should something not have worked out in the past, it does not necessarily mean that it will not work out for you in the future. Be prepared to take some calculated risks and to live experimentally, testing out your predictions as you go.


mind reading

Mind reading takes place when you jump to conclusions about what other people might be thinking or feeling, particularly when you imagine it is about you. It is common for a person to interpret another’s odd look or absentminded word as a clear sign of his or her disapproval. Of course, there could well be many other plausible explanations for an action, so it is unnecessary and unhelpful for you to draw conclusions that may just serve to undermine your self-esteem, self-confidence or faith in the world.


personalising and blaming

Although different from each other, personalising and blaming are opposite sides of the same coin. The first suggests taking full responsibility for something that is not entirely your own fault, while the second is holding others completely responsible for any harm that may have been caused, especially if you feel they have been negligent in some way or have “intentionally” inflicted emotional distress.

Because attributing blame is not a useful way of finding a resolution to most situations and because this approach can serve to trigger unhelpful negative emotions in you, neither pattern tends to be constructive or solution-focused. Blame, particularly self-blame is an important predictor of depression and anxiety - two of the most prevalent emotional disorders being treated today.


It might be more beneficial to find a way to be compassionate and understanding - both with yourself and with others. Perhaps admit that you may have made some mistakes, when it is appropriate to do so, and be understanding of the mistakes made by others. See it as an opportunity to learn from the experience.


being critical

This happens when you become upset should things not go the way you had expected or had hoped them to. This thinking style will cause you to have rather fixed ideas about the ways things should be. Such words as “must”, “ought”, “have to” and, of course, “should” will tend to be prominent in your vocabulary. It is a way of thinking can cause your expectations to be somewhat unrealistic, which in turn will trigger strong feelings of disappointment, frustration, anger or guilt when they are not fully met.

Perhaps learn to combat your “should” beliefs by determining which things you are able to change and which you are not. Then put your energy into working on the ones you can alter, and learn to be more accepting of the rest.



This style of thinking occurs when you brood over past events. It involves thoughts going around and around with the focus on how you feel about them. Although some self-reflection can, of course, be helpful, a brooding mind is probably the single most important cause of such potentially serious emotional disorders as depression and anxiety. To break a cycle of ruminating, learning to be more mindful to spend more time in the present moment and become solution-focused rather than backward looking.



Read more about ruminating, about fear and anxiety and about dealing with uncertainty. Also learn about the difference between self-referencing and other referencing. Most importantly, look at the attitudes that can positively impact on your emotional health and wellbeing.

Hypnosis and its related disciplines provide a range of excellent techniques and insights to help you to enhance your approach to the world. They can help to heal emotional ills and can serve to lift your self-confidence, increase your enjoyment of life and improve on your effectiveness in the world. Please contact me, should you wish to ask me questions about this article. Alternatively, simply make an appointment to see me.


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