Helpful thinking

There are many different unhelpful thinking styles – some people call them ‘thinking errors’ because they often leave you with the wrong impression of what is really happening.

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Catch and challenge unhelpful thinking

Try to catch yourself whenever you find you are thinking any unhelpful thoughts and challenge them! And no matter what the issue practice thinking about things that help you achieve your goals rather than focusing on the obstacles that will get in your way.

But how do you do this?

If you have struck a problem or something is on your mind it can be helpful to ask yourself a few questions like:

How do I know that is true? What makes me think that?

Chances are you don’t have any evidence that it is true. Focus on what you know for sure – don’t worry about things without a good reason to.

Is there an alternative explanation?

There are usually lots of different explanations for why things happen. Just because you have come up with one explanation it does not mean that it is true – consider the possibilities.

What would I say if my friend was thinking the same thing?

Act like your own best friend and remember what they would say about the situation – don’t be so hard on yourself.

What are the chances that this ‘bad thing’ will actually happen?

When you think rationally and objectively you can find that things are not as bad as you think – keep things in perspective.

Is there another way that would help me to think about things a bit more helpfully?

It is about looking at an event and wondering if there is another way to think about it - improve how you feel about something by changing how you think about it.


Tips for helpful thinking

  • You have the power to change how you think. 
  • Focus on your goals and how to overcome challenges and don’t let you unhelpful thoughts get in the way. Then you are on your way to taking control of your thinking and that can only make you feel better too!



Need some help?

If you are finding it difficult to cope or change the way you think about things talk to your GP, a counsellor or another trusted adult. There are also lots of online and phone supports available 24 hours a day.


All or nothing thinking

Believing things must be 100% perfect or it’s a total failure; you see everything as good or bad, with no in between.

Things to ask yourself

  • How do I know that is true? What are the facts?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Accept that it is OK if everything is not perfect – that’s life. What with what you have.


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Overgeneralising

Believing things will always go wrong because something did once.

Things to ask yourself

  • How do I know that is true? What are the facts?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Deal with what is going on now – don’t focus on what has happened on the past.


Mindreading

Believing you know what someone is thinking.

Things to ask yourself

  • How do I know that is true?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Remember that you cannot know what other people are thinking unless they tell you – otherwise you are just guessing.


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Catastrophising

 Imagining and expecting the worst will happen

Things to ask yourself

  • What are the chances that this ‘bad thing’ will actually happen?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Keep things in perspective; it’s probably not as bad as you think.


Minimising/Filtering

Focusing on the bad stuff and downplaying or ignoring the good stuff

Things to ask yourself

  • What would you say if your friend was thinking the same thing?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Review everything that is going on instead of filtering out the good stuff.



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Magnifying/Exaggerating

Making something a bigger issue than it really is and believing that things are much worse than they really are.

Things to ask yourself

  • What would you say if your friend was thinking the same thing?
  • Is there another way that I could look at this?

Helpful ways to think

Focus on what has actually happened and what you can do rather than blowing things out of proportion.


Fortune telling

Predicting things will turn out badly, even if you have absolutely no proof that this will happen.

Things to think about

  • What are the chances that this ‘bad thing’ will actually happen?
  • Is there another way that would help me to think about things a bit more helpfully?

Helpful ways of thinking

Pay attention to how you want things to be and focus on what you can do to make it happen, not what will stop you.


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