Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Our mind controls everything. I’ve been saying this a lot lately, because I’ve been hyper-focused on it. For better or worst, what we think, determines so much of our life. This is something that I’m studying (books, therapy, conversations) and finding ways to grow in areas that I would consider unhealthy. Here’s a breakdown of all ten unhelpful thinking styles.

All or Nothing Thinking

Sometimes called black and white thinking’.

  • If I’m not perfect I have failed.”
  • Either I do it right nor not at all.”

Mental Filter

Only paying attention to certain types of evidence.

  • Noticing our failures but not seeing our successes.

Jumping to Conclusions

There are two key types of jumping to conclusions:

  • Mind reading: Imagining we know what others are thinking
  • Fortune telling: Predicting the future

Emotional Reasoning

Assuming that because we feel A certain way what we think must be true.

  • I feel embarrassed so I must be an idiot.


Assigning labels to ourselves or other people.

  • I’m a loser.”
  • I’m completely useless.”
  • They’re such an idiot.”


Seeing a pattern based upon a single event, or being overly broad. The conclusions we draw.

  • Everything is always rubbish.”
  • Nothing good ever happens.”

Disqualifying the Positive

Discounting the good things have happened or that you have for some reason or another

  • That doesn’t count.”

Magnification and Minimization

Blowing things out of proportion (catastrophizing), or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important.


Using critical words like should’, must’, or ought’ can make us feel guilty, or like we have already failed.

  • If we apply shoulds’ to other people the results is often frustration.


Blaming yourself or taking responsibility or something that wasn’t completely your fault. Conversely, blaming other people for something that was your fault.

  • This is my fault.”

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