Thinking styles happen when you habitually process information in a certain way. Thinking habits become ingrained and can stay below your conscious awareness, so starting to notice and ‘catch’ these thinking habits is the first step to making changes.
Thinking errors occur when you continually focus your attention on a threat or danger and thus feed into anxiety, sadness and stress. Your thinking then becomes ‘locked’ onto the negative outcome you envisage.
The first step is paying attention to your thinking errors.
We’ve already looked at two thinking styles. Here are two more.
Emotional reasoning happens when you respond to the emotion rather than responding to what is actually happening. This thinking means that the more afraid you feel, and the more distressed you feel, the greater you assume the threat to be.
You may use emotional reasoning because you think that it drives you to act more effectively, because it stops you having to become involved in distressing situations or because it makes sense and explains things that are happening to you.
In emotional reasoning you do not see your feelings as simply just a reaction to your thinking. You may think when you feel a low level of anxiety that it could become a terrifying panic attack. You may think you will never be able to find a job after you have experienced redundancy.
When you use a mental filter you can imagine it is like looking through ‘gloomy specs’ or tinted goggles. When you are wearing these specs or goggles you only see what you want to see and you ignore or dismiss anything that doesn’t ‘fit’ with your thinking. You catch all the negative stuff with your filter, but you dismiss anything positive or realistic.
When you are using your mental filter you are focused on all the threatening information, and you ignore any evidence of safety.
When you are using your mental filter you focus on your anxious feelings rather than paying attention to someone talking to you. You are likely to think that a medical procedure will lead to cancer or that people will be bored (since they are looking that way) when you talk to them.
What you can do:
- Catch your thinking when you can and notice the types of thinking in your head.
- Can you label some of your thoughts as a specific thinking errors?
- Which thinking errors occur most often for you?