We all get worried about stuff in our lives. It’s normal. But sometimes, that worry can escalate into something bigger, and so trying to reframe this and see things from a different perspective can really help us to prevent worrying too much.
There are these things called thinking traps, and these can make us get caught up in negative thinking patterns, make us worry and ultimately, can end up being how we think about every situation in our lives.
The 6 Big Thinking Traps are:
- Negative Bias: Only focusing on the negatives, and dismissing the positives.
- Mind Reading: Assuming you know what someone is thinking about you.
- Catastrophising: Assuming the worst-case scenario.
- Over-generalising: Assuming all future experiences will be the same as a previous negative experience.
- Black and white thinking – Thinking in extremes, that every situation is black and white.
- Personalising: Feeling responsible for a negative situation even when it’s not your fault.
Thinking Traps can make things seem worse than they really are, and cause feelings of worry and anxiety.
So how do we challenge them? Use these five handy techniques to challenge any Thinking Traps you find yourself falling into:
- The Sunshine Filter: IF YOU HAVE NEGATIVE BIAS… Remind yourself that you’re focused on the negatives. Look for all of the positives in the situation instead, Try to smile every time you think of one.
- The Fact Check: IF YOU’RE MIND READING… Remind yourself that thoughts are not facts. Write down all the facts you can PROVE to be true about the situation.
- The New Viewpoint: IF YOU’RE CATASTROPHISING… Imagine your thought on a spectrum from ‘this is a catastrophe’ to ‘this is great’. Now imagine 3 new thoughts from different viewpoints on the spectrum. Remind yourself that the worst case scenario isn’t the only possibility. In fact – it’s probably one of the least likely possibilities.
- The Lawyer: IF YOU’RE OVER-GENERALISING… Take your thought to court. How many examples can you find that disprove the thought? How many examples can you find where your worries didn’t come true?
- The Invisibility Cloak: IF YOU’RE PERSONALISING… Imagine you had nothing to do with the situation – you’re totally out of the picture, and you’re just watching the events take place. If you weren’t the cause of the situation you’re worried about, what else could have caused it? How many other explanations can you think of? Realistically, which explanation is most likely?
We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we think about it. We often fall into thinking traps which make us feel worried but we can overcome those thinking traps by challenging them and finding positive alternatives.