Do you ever feel like your mind is uncontrollably running wild? We create scenarios about
situations that haven’t happened and we play out conversations in our head that haven’t
happened. Our brains overthink, overanalyze, and play out these scenarios to help protect us.
This would be really helpful if we could tell the future, but unfortunately we can’t. So what are
we supposed to do?
We get stuck in unhelpful thought processes that keep us from seeing situations rationally. The
first thing we can do is to recognize what thought processes we get stuck in and learn to become
more aware of when it happens. Most, if not all, of our thoughts funnel down to beliefs we hold
about ourselves, others, and the world. Ultimately, we have to investigate why we get stuck in
these thought patterns and if there’s an underlying belief that needs to change. Below are five of
the most common ways of thinking that keep us stuck:
This happens when we imagine the worst case scenario in a situation. For example, if your boss asks to meet with you after work you might think “I must’ve done something wrong and now they’re going to fire me.” It doesn’t matter what the situation or who it involves, we’re worried that the worst possible outcome will occur.
We take our experiences in one, or a few, instances and generalize them to the extreme. This might sound like “I didn’t do well on my test. I’m always failing” or “this person left me; everyone always leaves me.” These statements include words like “always” and “never,” which we all tend to use.
3) “Should” statements
This occurs when we have a belief that people, things, situations, and the world should be a particular way. You might hear yourself say “I shouldn’t still be sad about this breakup” or “you should just talk about it.” We all hold beliefs about how things “should” be, but that doesn’t mean our beliefs are truth. When we make “should” statements to ourselves and others, we’re sending the message that “you’re
wrong” for feeling that way, doing that thing, or believing what you believe.
4) Emotional reasoning
When we get stuck in emotional reasoning, it means we take our feelings in a situation and turn that into our reality. For example, you might think “I feel like I’m not good enough, therefore I’m not good enough.” Our emotions provide us information about what’s happening for us, but they don’t dictate or define our reality.
5) Mind reading
Mind reading is making the assumption about what another person is thinking or feeling. You might do this often if you worry about how others perceive you. Mind reading might sound like “they didn’t invite me out tonight. They must be mad at me.” An easy (but uncomfortable) antidote to mind reading is asking the person what they’re thinking and/or feeling. You’ll never know until you ask.
It’s so hard to become unstuck from these thought processes, but it is possible! We’re here to be your teammate to break old patterns. It takes repetition and practice to build new pathways and ways of thinking in our brains. Change is possible! Reach out to us today to see how we can help you live better.