10 Types of Stinkin' Thinkin' To Avoid

We all need a daily check-up from the neck up to avoid stinkin' thinkin' which ultimately leads to hardening of the attitudes. (Zig Ziglar)

All of us have many thoughts or internal conversations. In fact, studies show we can have as many as 60,000 of these per day. Some of these thoughts (also known as "self-talk) are harmless. For example, "I think I will eat out tonight instead of cooking." Others (often referred to as stinkin' thinkin') can be harmful, since they affect how you feel. For example,  "I am never going to find a job."

In order to live a joyful life, you must eliminate stinkin' thinkin'. The first step is identifying the most common types:

1. Overgeneralization 

Seeing a single negative event as a pattern of defeat. This type of thinking includes:

"Always" - "I always mess up in job interviews."

"Nothing"  - " "Nothing ever goes right for me."

"No one" - "No one values my opinion."

"Everything" - "Everything is working against me."

"Every time" - "Every time I hold a meeting something goes wrong."

2. Focusing on the negative

Picking out a single negative detail and focusing on that exclusively.

Example: "Four out of my five patients were complimentary. One patient complained." "I am a lousy caregiver."

3. Jumping to conclusions

a. Fortune-telling - Predicting what is going to happen in the future

Example: "I am not even going to attempt it because it is not going to turn out right anyway."

b. Mind Reading - Believing that you know what someone thinks, even though they have not told you.

Example: "My boss thinks I am incompetent."

4. Emotional Reasoning

Feeling a certain way and assuming that you feel that way because that is the way things really are.

Example: "I feel overmatched. That means I am inferior to my peers."

5. Labeling 

Attaching a negative label to:

a. Yourself 

Example: "I am a failure."

This leads to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

b. Others

Example: "My co-worker is inconsiderate."

This leads to anger and frustration.

6. Blaming

a. Yourself - Holding yourself responsible for something outside of your control.

Example: "I let the patient die."

b. Others - Holding someone else responsible for your problems without looking at how you may have contributed to the problem.

Example: "The reason my marriage is in trouble is that my spouse does not communicate."

7."Should", "Must" or "Ought" statements

Telling yourself that things should, must or ought to be the way you expect them to be.

Uses "should", "should not", "ought" "must" " "must not"

Examples of should statements aimed at yourself:

"I should be able to solve this problem on my own."

"I should not have made that mistake."

These lead to guilt and frustration.

Examples of should statements aimed at others.

"My boss should consult me before making decisions."

"My co-workers should not waste so much time chit-chatting."

"My neighbors ought to mow their lawn more often."

"People must treat me with respect or they are no good."

These lead to anger at frustration

Examples of should statements aimed at life in general

"Life should be easy and problem-free."

These lead to anger, frustration, anxiety and depression.

8. Discounting the positive

Rejecting positive experiences by insisting that they don't count.

Example: "Several people said I did a good job, but anyone could have done just as well."

This leads to feelings of in inadequacy. 

9. Catastrophizing 

Expecting something unbearable or intolerable to happen. Involves "What If" questions.

Examples: "What if someone breaks into my house while I am on vacation?" "What if I lose my job?" What if I can't find someone to marry?

This leads to anxiety and stress.

10. Black and white or all or nothing thinking 

Seeing only one extreme or the other with no in-betweens or gray areas.

Right or wrong/Good or bad

Example: It is wrong for a young person not to help an old lady cross the street.

Example: My spouse is the best. (On Monday) My spouse is insensitive. (On Tuesday)