We can fall into unhelpful thinking patterns when we are stressed, sometimes known as thinking traps.
Typical thinking traps which emerge when people are experiencing stress are:

    • Emotional Reasoning – this means using our feelings as evidence for our negative thoughts e.g. I feel anxious therefore something awful is about to happen.

 

    • Catastrophizing – predicting the worst possible outcome in any given situation even when the logical probability of that outcome is low e.g. I’m late for work which means I’m bound to get the sack which means my family will be homeless by this time next week.

 

    • Emotive Language- telling stories about our situation using emotionally charged words which evoke unhelpful feelings e.g. – It’ll be the end of the world if I fluff this sales pitch. I don’t know how I’ll live with myself if I don’t land this client.

 

    • Mind Reading – making assumptions about what someone else is thinking based on very little evidence. e.g. My boss yawned during my presentation – that means she thinks it was rubbish.
    • Generalising – Making a universal conclusion on the basis of one negative experience e.g. there was a mistake in my report – I’m rubbish at everything.

 

    • Polarised Thinking – this means thinking in rigid extremes without recognising a possible middle ground e.g. I must do everything perfectly or else I’m a failure.

 

    • Blaming-this means ascribing disproportionate responsibility to either oneself or others. e.g. following a misunderstanding with a colleague: It’s all his fault or It’s all my fault.

 

    • Filtering- filtering means that we only pay attention to the evidence that fits with our preconceptions. e.g. I believe that my presentation was rubbish – I take the fact that my boss yawned as evidence to back that up and disregard the fact that she gave me a round of applause and congratulated me. I might tell myself she was just being polite thus discounting the counter-evidence to my ‘rubbish presentation’.

 

    • Magnifying – means placing extra importance on events that fit with our beliefs. e.g. I focus on the one small error in my report to back up my perception that it is rubbish.
      Recognising these thinking traps when we are stressed and consciously changing our thoughts can help us to feel better and switch off the body’s stress response.

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