2 self help hacks to change the way you think
Are you losing sleep worrying about what might or might not happen in the future?
Do your thoughts go around and around in your mind on an endless loop?
Does negative thinking spoil your enjoyment of life?
If you feel anxious all the time and plagued by worrying thoughts it may be because you have developed an unhelpful thinking style.
People’s thoughts and reactions to circumstances and events are influenced by their style of thinking. In fact, your thinking style can make a difference between being burdened by worry or being someone who can glide through life and never be overly concerned about anything.
Let’s take a closer look at thinking styles and perhaps you can recognise patterns in your own thinking.
The Black and White Thinker
This is an ‘either, or’ style of thinking that tends towards the extreme in any situation. Black and white thinkers generally fail to recognise all the shades of grey in their life and have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. An example would be if they fail at a task then they berate themselves as a total failure and forget all the times they’ve succeeded before. It is as if they cannot acknowledge or own any track record of achievement for themselves.
The Catastrophic Thinker
This kind of thinker always thinks the worst. If something challenging happens in their life the thoughts they have will automatically go to the extremes of negativity. An example would be if a friend turns down their invitation to meet up it is because their friend no longer wants to know them or ever see them again and they’ll end up alone without anyone to care about them. This type of thinking is exhausting and can reinforce feelings of powerlessness and overwhelm.
This kind of thinker ruminates about everything thinking and re-thinking and the outcome is never positive. If a colleague at work says something to them that can be taken two ways for instance or is ambiguous they would never think to dismiss the comment as a throwaway remark or ask for clarification. Instead, they spend endless amounts of time and energy trying to work out what this person might have meant by what they said. It bothers them and makes them feel unsettled. An example of this type of thinking could be if their partner says you look slim or fit in that outfit they can’t just accept the compliment without ruminating on whether perhaps their partner has been thinking they looked previously heavy or overweight.
Identifying Your Thinking Style
These types of thinking are considered to be disordered thinking which means your emotions are sub-consciously determined by your thoughts.
These are thinking styles you may have developed over time and it just felt natural for you to think in this way but you can see how they have a negative influence on your mood and how you feel about yourself. Identifying what thinking style or even the mix of thinking styles that is your default setting is one of the first steps to taking conscious control of your thoughts so that you are no longer a passive casualty of your thinking imperatives.
When considering what kind of thinker you maybe it’s also useful to explore whose thinking style reminds you of. For instance was one or both of your parents’ catastrophisers or black and white thinkers?
If so, that can defiantly have an influence on your thinking style you and once you can identify ‘Oh my father was always a worrier or an over-thinker’ then you begin to make a space or create boundaries around your thoughts so that when you slip into worrying you can consciously say to yourself ‘I’m just thinking the same way my dad always did.’
This insight you can help you to consciously choose to interrupt your thinking with the aim of letting it go.
Changing a thinking style will take vigilance and insights and with practice, you can have a thought; decide whether its a helpful thought or not; interrupt it, and formulate a more helpful positive alternate thought instead.
How To Change Your Thinking Style
There are several ways you can change your thinking style.
Breaking state is purposely doing something to interrupt your thinking and to stop your negative ruminating circular thoughts. So instead of just submitting to hours of negative thinking the best way to break state is by doing something physical. In Energy Therapy there is a well-established technique called ‘Cross Crawl where you stand up and alternate raising your left knee to tap that knee with your right hand and then lower that knee and raise your right knee and tap with your left hand. Repeat five to ten times. Alternatively, you can run up a flight of stairs or go outside in the fresh air. You need to break the pattern of negative thinking and stop allowing your thoughts to dictate your feelings.
When you are caught up in worry and anxiety your breathing becomes much more shallow. This happens without people realising. An effective way to change your thinking is to assess your breathing by taking three gently in and out breaths so you can score your depth of breathing on a scale of zero to ten. Just take an intuitive guess. A zero score means no breath in your body at all and a score of ten signifies you are breathing deeply and freely.
You may be surprised to find your breathing is below five and to increase the depth of your breathing you can tap with a soft fist around your collarbone and focus on breathing more deeply for a few moments. The tapping around your collarbone is another energy Therapy technique to help you feel more grounded and secure. Reaching and touching the collarbone is a natural response for many people when they hear bad news. It’s a natural non-verbal self-comforting reaction and you can use it to move out of negative thinking to feeling calmer and more secure.
Is your style of thinking getting in your way of happiness and success? If you want help to transform how you think and feel about yourself then reach out and make contact. You can book an obligation free discovery call on this page.
Sally Baker is Senior Therapist, published Author and Speaker in private practice in London for face to face sessions and the world over via the internet.
With almost twenty years of professional experience, she employs cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to help one person at a time to transform their lives.
She has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders as well as conflicts within relationships and the family.
To find out more about Sally Baker, her books and her work visit her website, www.workingonthebody.com