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Negative Thinking

Many people feel that Negative Thinking seems like a long dark corridor, with no light at the end.  Even though there are many available exit doors, they are blocked with many seemingly immoveable obstacles.  These ‘blockages’ often appear as if the person is ‘walking backward in treacle’. The types of an individual’s many single or multiple categories of Negative Thinking are as follows: 

  • Catastrophising (making a mountain out of a mole hill)
  • Mind Reading (predicting the future, also known as fortune telling)
  • Black and White Thinking (either totally good or totally bad)
  • All or nothing thinking (similar to black and white thinking)
  • What if............. (this happens or that happens)
  • Discounting the positives (boss said ‘good work’ and other constructive advice, but you think ‘but they really think I am rubbish at my job’
  • Emotional reasoning (you think something is true just because ‘you feel it’ or believe it)
  • Ignoring all evidence to the contrary (as above discounting the positives)
  • Labelling (you put a definite, fixed or global label on yourself or others, ignoring evidence)
  • Magnification/Minimisation (Magnifying the negative and minimising the positive)
  • Mental filter (also called selective thinking) you pay undue attention to one negative detail – whilst ignoring the whole picture
  • Over generalisation (you make a massive, sweeping negative conclusion, ignoring others)
  • Personalisation (you believe others behave negatively because of you, ignoring reasonable explanations)
  • Should and Must (totally 100% fixed immoveable ideas of how you and other should behave)                                                              
  • Tunnel vision (very much like black and white thinking)


The above ways of negative thinking can impact your daily activities and your overall motivation and mood.  A very important part of our integrated therapies is using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), within this umbrella is Behavioural Activation.  This is where we have already used Cognitive Therapy (to change the person’s beliefs, thoughts, sensations and feelings).  This prepares the person to go out practically and test out (step-by-step) how their behaviours are improving.  To simplify, Cognitive Therapy is talking the talk, whist Behavioural Therapy is walking the walk.

Negative thinking overall is a very significant part of the symptoms of Depression.  It cannot be emphasised enough to empower and motivate the client to change their behaviour by small daily improvements: phone a friend, go for a walk, visit a friend, go to hairdressers, get nails done, wear different clothes, clean out drawers or wardrobe, go to the gym, go for a run, talk to a neighbour, read a book etc.

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