The manner of thinking is spontaneous in most cases. You do not force yourself to think because it is something that the mind does all of the time, automatically. Thoughts are so varied that they seem uncontrollable sometimes. Thoughts can just pop up out of blue in the mind, may seem weird, can be intrusive in the middle of a busy day, and may even disrupt sleep. It can generate varied images in the head that may either induce happiness or unpleasantness.
Negative Thinking Patterns in the Mind
During instances of depression and anxiety, thoughts can tend to resort to a negatively biased manner, which means that negative thinking patterns enter effortlessly in a person’s mind. Negative thoughts simply fill the mind without having to force it to. These negativities may be about the individual himself, the people around, and the society in general. People are easily lured into focusing on the negative thoughts and dwelling on them. There are certain patterns that manifest instances of negative thinking.
Patterns of Cognitive Distortions
People who over-generalize tend to take all future events and circumstances to be the same based on a certain similar experience. For example, if you encountered a very rude sales crew, you might have come to a generalization that all sales crews are unpleasant and you tend to treat shopping as a traumatizing experience.
A person labels others or himself using negative and discouraging terms based on a mistake or a failure. Some examples of these terms for labeling are “worrier”, “whiner”, “totally hopeless”, “stupid” and many other similar terms.
Personalizing is a pattern of solely blaming oneself for the unfortunate turn of events in one’s life, even with lack of proof or basis for such. When you are hosting a dinner party, for instance, and people do not seem to be enjoying, you tend to blame the fault on yourself for the outcome.
Black and White Thinking
This type of cognitive distortion makes you assess yourself and your capacity in extremely opposite manners. So, you can think of yourself either as good or you can perceive yourself to be bad. You are either a quitter or a go-getter, a magnet for success or an attraction for failure.
Jumping to Conclusions
Individuals who jump to conclusions have the tendency to see only the misfortunes of a situation, failing to consider other possibilities of getting things resolved with other options.
The use of modal verb “should” in most of your statements imposes strict rules and expectations either to yourself or to others which can lead to disappointments, frustration, guilt, and shame when not adhered to.
Closely similar to jumping conclusions, emotional reasoning involves more of the emotions than facts when judging a situation. So, negative thinkers allow their feelings to rule over their rational minds.
It is about having this belief that another person knows what your thoughts are. For example, if you have this thought that you may not be able to perform a task well, you tend to think that others also have the same thing in mind about you.
Having an egocentric pattern of thinking means that you would want other people to confer and agree with what you are thinking instead of having different views. If you think that such a situation is a failure, you also would like others to see it the way you do.
Impact of Cognitive Distortions
Allowing these cognitive distortions to dominate the mind can cause the building up of the habit of negative thinking. Once it becomes a habit, something that is repeatedly manifested, you tend to automatically react to situations and to people negatively, usually without a quick realization that the way you reacted is not in favor of how your emotions and actions ought to be as well as how people wanted it to be.
Cognitive distortions, from the term itself, refer to those negative and unpleasant thoughts that cause disturbance in your frame of mind. Thus, instances such as wrong mindset, incorrect decisions, regrets, and similar conditions occur. You are very much capable of your controlling your own stream of thoughts, and a willingness to change your paradigm will make a good start.