5 Unproductive Thought Patterns With the Power To Hijack Your Brain

5 Unproductive Thought Patterns With the Power To Hijack Your Brain

via Well & Good by Emily Laurence

No matter what we’re doing—answering emails, unloading the dishwasher, scrolling through social media—there’s a near-constant stream of thoughts in the back of our minds. Sometimes, these thoughts are like the low hum of a refrigerator; quiet background noise you almost don’t notice. Other times, unproductive thought patterns completely take over, making it difficult to focus on anything else, according to human behavior professor and executive coach Melody Wilding, LMSW.

Background thoughts can serve as a driving force to push us forward or they can cause downward spiral into a state of defeat, says Wilding.

Overthinking happens. It just does. It’s near impossible to banish unproductive thought patterns from your mind for good. In her new book, Trust Yourself ($21), Wilding pinpoints 10 types of negative self-talk and ways people overthink—and how to stop them in their tracks. Highlighted here are five of the most common.

The most common unproductive thought patterns

1. All-or-nothing thinking

Wilding says all-or-nothing thinking is an unproductive thought pattern many of her clients struggling with. “This is when you see a situation in absolutes without room for a middle ground,” she says. One example of this she says is, “if I don’t get this right, I’m a complete failure.”RELATED STORIES‘Psychological Distancing’ Leads to Better Decision Making and Less Obsessive Thoughts5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself for Long-Lasting Happiness

Wilding says it can also look like assuming you have to go all-in on something in order for it to be a part of your life. For example, maybe you have a personal goal of sharing your homemade healthy recipes with the world. But instead of just posting them on social media or starting a website, all-or-nothing thinking manifests as believing you have to become a certified health coach or attain chef certifications before sharing your recipes with the world.

Here’s Wilding’s advice for both scenarios: look for the middle ground. “Situations are more nuanced than people realize; you don’t have to go to the extreme to see something through,” she says…

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