10 Common Negative Automatic Thoughts

Changing negative automatic thoughts into positive automatic thoughts will change your life - the way you feel, and the way you do things. Imagine what you can achieve when life is an empty canvas for you to create your own reality.

David D. Burns outlines 10 common negative automatic thoughts in his book "The feeling good handbook". Which ones can you relate to?

  1. All-or-nothing thinking - You see things in black and white categories.
  2. Overgeneralisation - You make wide generalisations from isolated cases. For example, if someone lets you down you think "they always let me down".
  3. Mental filter - You focus exclusively on a single negative detail and dwell on it so that your vision of all reality becomes effected.
  4. Disqualifying the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason which means you maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to conclusions - You make a negative interpretation even though there are no facts to support your conclusion. There are two specific subtypes that are identified:
    1. Mind reading – You assume the intentions of others and don't bother to check it out.
    2. Fortune telling – You anticipate that things will turn out badly and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.
  6. Magnification (catastrophising) or minimisation - You exaggerate the negatives and understate the positives.
  7. Emotional reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions reflect the ways things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true".
  8. Should statements - You hold yourself accountable by "I should" and "I shouldn't", as well as "I must" or "I ought". The emotional consequence of these is often guilt, and when you direct these statements towards others you can feel anger, frustration and resentment.
  9. Labelling and mislabelling - This is an extreme form of overgeneralisation whereby you attach a negative label to yourself such as "I am useless" or to another person "he's a jerk".
  10. Personalisation - You hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control.

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