For everyone We are affected by “automatic negative thoughts” (Automatic negative thoughts in its English translation). They are repetitive thought patterns that tend to be automatic and negative in nature.
[Margarita Álvarez, CEO de Working for Happiness: “La clave de la felicidad está en las relaciones”]
these patterns Influencing the way we interpret situationsEmotions and events in our daily lives.
They are usually cognitive distortions affect our perception of situations actually Our emotional healthand often rely on oversimplifications, generalizations, and extreme judgments.
These thought patterns, which often go unnoticed, have a profound impact on our lives.
Imagine our mind as a landscape. Sometimes our mental landscape is full of monotonous, absurdly repetitive negative thoughts. These patterns are like beaten paths in the woods, where our thoughts tend to wander over and over again, aimlessly and uncontrollably.
Furthermore, “automatic negative thoughts” often appear without warning Color our perception of reality in dark colors.
Think of them as those little inner voices who tend to exaggerate the negative and dismiss the positive. If, We are experts at that. Who among us has ever heard that low voice, when you make a mistake, that says, “You’re useless!” Therein lies the crux of these ideas: oversimplification and hasty generalizations.
Eight basic patterns
in my book, Deconstruction of happiness (Alienta, 2019), I collected the eight most common patterns on this topic:
- Ignore the positives: Focus exclusively on the negative and discard the positive. For example, when several people tell us something nice but only one person tells us something we don’t like, we keep thinking and focusing on the latter.
- intimidation: Imagine the worst possible outcome of a situation, even when it is unlikely. This can lead to anxiety and excessive worry.
- Personalize: Blaming yourself for external negative events, taking excessive responsibility. For example, believing that an argument at work is your fault when there are multiple factors involved. Believing that this is always our fault, in addition to being statistically improbable, is emotionally devastating.
- Over-generalizing: Extrapolating one negative event to our entire life or to similar situations in the future. For example, after a breakup, we think “I will never be able to be with anyone again,” and we say that to ourselves as if it has a solid scientific basis rather than a silly statement that also undermines our self-esteem.
- Binary thinking: Seeing things from a “black and white” perspective, without looking at the nuances and possibilities between them. For example, believing that if you’re not perfect, then you’re a complete failure. Often times we are our own worst critics. We tell ourselves things we would never say to others, absolute and unconditional statements like “I’m stupid” or “I’m a loser.” Life is a matter of gray and it is good to apply that gray to others and to ourselves. Our brain is adept at turning a dissonant note into a sad melody.
- attached: Assigning negative labels to self or others rather than acknowledging the complexity of people and situations. “I’m ugly” or “my boss is an idiot” ends up having an impact that goes beyond objective reality.
- Read other people’s thoughts: We are experts in telepathy. In any situation, we imagine, in order to believe, what the person in front of us is thinking. “He’s bored” “He doesn’t like me” are thoughts we have when we interact with someone, which ultimately end up affecting how we feel and therefore how we act with those people (who in many cases neither think nor feel what we might be) I guessed”).
- future divination: Predicting negatively what things will turn out to be in the future without hard evidence. “Why would I try if it didn’t work?” We often tell ourselves. This common thought paralyzes us, and makes us either take challenges or take risks, so we miss out on many things.
The worst of all is that these patterns have the potential to influence how we feel, how we interpret the world around us, and therefore how we act.
It is important Recognize these thought patterns in ourselves To be able to question and challenge them. By recognizing these patterns and questioning their validity, we begin to dissipate their power.
Our job is to bring nuances into our mental drawing. Instead of seeing life as a series of successes or mistakes, we value shadows and flashes of light. The world is not just black and white; It is a tapestry of gray and vibrant colors.
With knowledge, understanding and the ability to recognize the “automatic negative thoughts” that attack us daily, we are able to neutralize them. Don’t let your brain tell you things you wouldn’t let your best friend tell you every day.
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