We want to help our teens recognise their unhelpful thinking styles and how these have influenced patterns of behaviour. Psychology Tools lists the following styles:
- All or Nothing Thinking – ‘if I’m not perfect, I’ve failed’ or ‘either I do it right or not at all’
- Mental Filter – only noticing failures but not seeing successes
- Jumping to Conclusions – imagining we know what others are thinking
- Emotional Reasoning – assuming that because we feel a certain way, what we think must be true ‘I feel embarrassed so I must be stupid’
- Labelling – assigning labels to ourselves ‘I’m completely useless’
- Personalisation – ‘I blame myself’ or ‘this is all my fault’
- Critical Language – ‘I should/must/ought’
- Magnification and Minimisation – reaction without the correct proportion
- Disqualifying the positive – ‘yes, but that doesn’t count’
- Over-Generalising – patterns and conclusions which don’t match the extent of the event ‘nothing good ever works out for me’
Once we take the first step to acknowledge our repeated cognitive patterns, we can then move the discussion to considering Alternative Responses…
- What is the probability that my thoughts will happen?
- What is the evidence that my thoughts are true?
- What is the bigger picture?
- If I had a friend in this situation who had these thoughts, what would it tell them?
- What could I do in the moment that would be more helpful?
- Am I needing to work on acceptance, letting go of control, beating okay with less than perfect, or having faith in the future and myself?
- What might it feel like if I acted/ thought differently?
- Are there any strengths or positives in me or the situation that I might be ignoring?
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