7 Negative Thinking Patterns to Watch Out For

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Hand pointing to positive thinking

Taking your cell phone with you wherever you go opens up a myriad of possibilities –possibilities that the old fashioned land lines never offered. Unfortunately some of those possibilities are risky! I speak from personal experience: There are endless ways to destroy your cell phone!

The first cell phone I destroyed met its end in the washer. My next cell phone met its demise when I poured hot tea into the mug I had curiously placed my phone into. I know – I can’t explain why I did such a thing!

My cell phone destruction does not stop with my own phone. Oh no! I have also shattered my husband’s iPhone. Just a warning: Your phone is probably not safe with me!

My silly cell phone incidents never happen when it is convenient. And the only one I can blame is me!

Negative thinking patterns are kind of like that too. They seem to make an appearance when you need to be at your very best! And the only person to blame – you!

Your ability to think as a leader is one of your greatest assets. There are specific things you can do to expand your thinking abilities. However, if you don’t deal with your negative thinking patterns, you will hinder your ability to thrive as a leader.

Recognize any of these thinking patterns:

1. Nothing Works

With this mindset, you believe your have exhausted the options, solutions, or choices – you have tried everything.

Challenge your Thinking: In reality, a fresh perspective or tweak in how you are thinking might make all the difference. After all, doing things over and over again the same way will result in the same outcome.

How does your attitude need to change? Who can help you explore other possibilities? What’s possible? What options has fear kept you from exploring? Why is accomplishing this task or goal important to you?

Sometimes the thing that will work is outside our comfort zone!

2. The Waiting Game

Do you find yourself telling people you are waiting on God when in reality you are fearful or hesitant to take initiative? Waiting for things to change, making excuses, and hoping a solution will show up become your default. God often stays silent until you do the last thing He asked you to do.

Challenge your thinking: It takes courage to step out and take action. Baby steps count! It might be time to depend on God in a greater way.

3. Negative & Critical

You see the problems, what’s wrong, or the downside with ease. Anything good or escapes your notice. You are hyper focused on the negative.

Challenge your thinking: Actively look for the positive, practice gratitude, and confront your fear of failure. Remember failure is not the end – it is an opportunity to try again having learned some things, if you choose to see it that way.

4. The Blame Game

It is always easier to see the part others play in a problem and much harder to see your own contribution. The Blame Game mindset is closely related to the victim mentality.

Challenge your thinking: Blaming is easy. Taking responsibility is hard. You might be engaged in The Blame Game if you are trying to change everyone around you rather than controlling the one person you actually have control over – YOU!

5. All or Nothing

It’s obvious when this negative thinking pattern is at work. Words like always, never, all, nothing, and every slip out of your mouth. Your thinking is very black and white. There is no gray and no compromise. The way you express things is in extremes and exaggerated – hurtful to those on the other end, including yourself!

Challenge your thinking: Watch the words you are using and make an effort to express things in a more neutral way. Challenge those “all or nothing” beliefs by coming up with three pieces of evidence that would disprove your “all or nothing” thinking. This way of thinking often springs out of a mindset that says there is only one option, one right way. Be willing to explore the options.

6. Wishful Self-Thinking

Creating an image of yourself that is more pleasing to others or that camouflages your flaws is wishful self-thinking. This way of thinking about yourself is limiting and will hold you back rather than grant you the approval you are seeking.

Challenge your thinking: It is the truth that will set you free! God did not make mistakes! What you view as your greatest flaw might actually your greatest asset if you will change how you think about it. When you are authentically you, you are at your best! People will be drawn to you. You may still have things to work on – but so does everyone!

7. Catastrophic Thinking

With this thinking pattern you see the worst possible outcome in any situation. It requires some big assumptions and big leaps to get there – but you can do it in an instant. It is your first thought! It is typically fueled by previous negative experiences, instability, abandonment, or a negative environment that has left a mark.

Challenge your thinking: Make an effort to truly consider the facts and not let your imagination run wild. Often it is the catastrophic thinking that leads you down the path to the very thing you feared!

If you are stepping out and taking on something big, don’t be surprised if a negative thinking pattern pops up. It happens! The goal is to get quicker at recognizing the negative thinking so that you can take steps to turn it around. Just like we depend on our cell phones these days – we also need clear thinking!

To be perfectly honest – I ventured into the negative & critical mindset recently. It wasn’t pretty! In the face of a big challenge, my fear overshadowed anything positive! Rehearsing the negative bits in my mind made me believe things were worse than they really were. When I took the time to get curious and document on paper the pros and cons of the situation it was abundantly clear that the positives far outweighed the negatives!

Your thinking will want to play tricks on you too, but with God’s help you don’t have to let it disconnect you from what He has purposed for you to do.

What negative thinking pattern do you find yourself engaging in? What have the consequences of that thinking pattern been?

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