Is your Thinking Unhealthy?

Thoughts are a part of life – there is no way to avoid them or escape them. But for something that is an innate part of your daily routine, how often do you stop to think about your thoughts?

Things that have happened in the past, in the present, and in the future all affect your thoughts. This can lead to various emotional reactions, behaviours and actions that may prevent us from being our best. Reframing your thoughts in an essential part of performance psychology – that can lead to results far better then first ‘thought’!

So what are unhealthy thoughts?

Sometimes on a bad day, it can be hard to consciously look at your thoughts. A good way to identify this is to stop yourself and say – are these thoughts hurting or healing? Some days you might say ‘this is hurting – how can I view this in a positive way? Is there an opportunity here?’, or some days you might just say ‘Who cares! I just need to be sad for a while’. But to consciously stop and identify how your thoughts make you feel is the first step to healthy thinking.

Some of the most common unhealthy thinking styles include:

  • Mental Filter: Are we only noticing the bad things in life? Am I filtering out the positives?
  • Judgements: Are we making judgements about events, ourselves, others or the world rather than looking at things objectively?
  • Prediction: Are we thinking that we know what’s going to happen in the future? Is this realistic?
  • Emotional Reasoning: Are we letting our emotions govern our thinking? Just because you feel bad, does this means things are bad?
  • Mind-Reading: Do we assume we know what others are thinking about us? Is there any evidence to support this or is it self made?
  • Mountains and Molehills: Are we exaggerating the risks and negative aspects of a situation? Is this constructive?
  • Compare and Despair: Are we comparing ourselves to others, but only looking at the good in them and the bad in us?
  • Catastrophising: Are we imagining the worst situation possible? What are the actual realistic chances of this happening?
  • Critical Self: Are we putting ourselves down? Are we blaming ourselves for something that’s not our responsibility?
  • Black and White Thinking: Are things always right or wrong? Or is there a middle ground that we need to explore?
  • Shoulds and musts: Are we setting ourselves unrealistic expectations? Is saying “I must” setting an unattainable goal?
  • Memories: Are we holding onto things from the past and letting them negatively affect our present?

So what do I do?

If you find yourself falling into any of these unhealthy thinking traps, make sure that you try to acknowledge this first. It can help to have a hair tie on your wrist and snap this against your wrist when you catch yourself thinking negatively – not as a punishment but just to bring your back to the present. Through the process of trying to escape unhealthy thinking styles, remember that this is a process as well. You won’t be perfect on your first try, and it takes a lot of brain training to work out of these things!

How do I think healthy?

Once you have acknowledged these unhealthy thoughts, then you can move towards reframing them. Things like memories might be painful and upsetting, but looking at what you learned from them can help you to see this in a more positive light. This is known as cognitive reframingย and can help you start to think healthier!

Healthy thinking also involves all of the other go to’s for a healthy life – regular exercise, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, socialising and taking some time for self care and reflection.

It’s important to note that thinking healthy doesn’t mean just thinking positively – no one is ever able to think positively all the time. But through acknowledging your feelings, controlling them so you don’t slip into despair, and then reframing them in a more realistic and reasonable way you can make sure that you are getting the most out of your days. This can help you physically as well, through reducing stress hormones. This all leads to helping your thrive and achieve your peak performance.

For more information about healthy and unhealthy thinking, get in touch with our team today at info@veretis.com.au or visit our Psych Up! resources for more information.