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Negative Thought Patterns: 20 Ways to Explore their Accuracy

Changing the way we view events can be a power tool in our coping toolbox. Negative thinking weighs heavy on our minds and our hearts. Sometimes our negative thoughts are accurate. Other times, our patterns of negative thinking may lead us to thinking about our situations less accurately. 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 thoughts are accurate? 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. Basing conclusions on my thoughts, without considering all the facts?
  5. Blaming myself for something that was not in my control?
  6. Overlooking (or underestimating) my contribution to the conflict/problem in the situation?
  7. Thinking the situation is all about me, when it may have little or nothing to do with me?
  8. Asking questions that do not have answers?
  9. Making myself out to be a horrible person, based on one event?
  10. Overlooking my strengths?
  11. Underestimating the problem solving and coping skills that I can contribute in the situation?
  12. Expecting perfection from myself or others in the situation?
  13. Thinking about the current situation for what it is, or making it a “forever event?” Meaning it is exactly like a previous event and will be occurring again in the future.
  14. Exaggerating details or outcomes of the situation?
  15. Making this situation a bigger deal than it needs to be?
  16. Open to other possible explanations for my actions or the actions of others?
  17. Thinking and identifying other ways to view the situation or assuming my view is the only one?
  18. Finding any good things about the situation or that can be an outcome of the situation?
  19. Assuming there is nothing that I can do to change my situation?
  20. Identifying parts of the situation that are in my control and actions I can take to lead to positive change?

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