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8 Limited Thinking Patterns

So often we allow our thoughts to run unexamined through our brain. Often those thoughts lead to negative behaviors. Below is a list of 8 limited thinking patterns that I will often explore with clients.  They are taken from the book Thoughts & Feelings by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning. It is a fantastic book.

Eight Limited Thinking Patterns:

  1. Filtering—You focus on a negative detail while ignoring all the positive aspects of a situation
  2. Polarized thinking—Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you are a failure. There’s no middle ground, no room for mistakes
  3. Overgeneralization—you reach a general conclusion based on a singular incident or piece of evidence. You exaggerate the frequency of problems and use negative global labels.
  4. Mind Reading—without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they act the way they do.  In particular, you have certain knowledge of how people think and feel about you.
  5. Catastrophizing—You expect, even visualize disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start asking, “What if?”  What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?
  6. Magnifying—You exaggerate the degree or intensity of a problem. You turn up the volume on anything bad, making it loud, large, and overwhelming.
  7. Personalization—You assume that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who is smarter, more competent, better looking, more successful, and so on.
  8. Shoulds—You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and others should act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty when you violate the rules.
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