The 12 Thrive Days of Christmas – 7 – Unhelpful Thinking Styles

A series of 12 brief articles published daily from 25th December to 5th January (The traditional 12 days of Christmas).  Today, what kind of thinker are you?

UnhelpfulThinking, Brooding

——————–O o O——————–

What are unhelpful thinking styles?

For our purposes I would define these as any way of thinking that has become exaggerated over time, usually because we feel powerless to change it.  It is, thus, an exaggeration of a normal characteristic, turning it into a full blown trait.  Often this exaggeration is so extreme that we label ourselves, or become labelled by others, accordingly.

Today we are starting things a little differently as I am going to ask you to do a bit of ‘self assessment’ .

I am going to outline 9 unhelpful thinking styles, but, first here’s your challenge.  Think for a few minutes about your own styles of thinking and make a note of which you recognise in yourself.  Your choices are:

Negative                              Brooding                              Paranoid

Black and White                   Catastrophic                         Impulsive

                  Perfectionist                         Hypervigilant                        Learned Helplessness

 (Please don’t cheat by reading ahead at this point)

How did you get on?

I was being a bit unfair as I have not given definitions for each style, but I am sure you will have identified some of them in your thinking.  There will be styles that predominate, and others that rear their heads from time to time, but they can all cause you problems.

Thinking styles are basically habits that may be helpful or unhelpful depending on the situation.

Unhelpful-Thinking Styles -Paranoid

Defining Unhelpful Thinking Styles

  1. Negative – You always look at the bad things in a situation. You assume you will fail, things will go wrong etc. (Glass half empty)
  2. Brooding – You become obsessive, worrying, brooding and thinking about everything in intricate detail.
  3. Paranoid – You worry that other people are out to criticise, reject, exploit, or harm you.
  4. Black and White – You see situations in a rigid and inflexible manner. All or nothing/ Black or White.
  5. Catastrophic – You magnify, exaggerate and blow out of proportion all perceived threats or worries.
  6. Impulsive – You want to feel happy/good/ satisfied RIGHT NOW and can’t put it off.  (Dieters beware!)
  7. Perfectionist – You set yourself ridiculously high standards.  You constantly strive to avoid failure as you can’t tolerate it.
  8. Hypervigilant – You are over alert and focus completely on negative cues, thus losing perspective.
  9. Learned Helplessness – You believe you are helpless and behave in a helpless manner, even when you have the power you need.

Do you want to change any of your assessments from earlier?

Unhelpful-Thinking-Styles-Black-and-White                   Unhelpful-Thinking-Styles-Perfectionist





Black and White Thinking.                                               Perfectionist Thinking

What can you do about it?

Firstly, remember that unhelpful thinking styles are habitual and habits can be changed.  By recognising, and then modifying, those you  identified you are helping to: reduce stress and anxiety, build a more internal sense of power and control, create higher self esteem and lower your social anxiety.

The Thrive Programme will help you recognise those unhelpful thinking styles causing you problems and teach you ways to change them.  This can all be achieved in as little as 6 sessions, when better to start than a New Year.

Thank you for reading this series of blog articles so far.  Tomorrow we will look at Language and how it can affect your well being.

In the meantime I would like to wish you a very happy and thriving 2017.

Ian Crosswell – Thrive With Ian


I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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