There are many types of negative thoughts that can hurt you. Usually are automatic ideas, some of which are no more than introjected beliefs; that is, beliefs that were transmitted to you by your parents or other significant adults during your first years of life that you keep with you. Other negative thoughts are the result of a distorted view of the events or simply unfulfilled expectations.
Albert Ellis, creator of the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, was firmly convinced that what affects us is not the things that happen to us, but the interpretation that we give them. These interpretations take the form of negative thoughts that generate discomfort and, what is even worse, prevent us from finding a satisfactory solution to our problems since they often serve only to fuel a vicious circle of negativity. The first step to get out of that loop is to know all the types of negative thoughts that can haunt your mind.
Are you a victim of these types of negative thoughts?
There are as many types of negative thoughts as people, but they can be summarized in 8 broad categories, easy to detect because of the attitudes they generate.
- A state of permanent emergency
Every time something happens, you assume it as a total emergency. That reaction is because your amygdala is activated and you can only see the alarm signal. In your brain is produced an emotional hijacking, triggering a panic reaction. Assuming the reality as if it were a crisis, you react disproportionately. This type of catastrophic thinking leads you to exaggerate the dangers and dismiss your resources to deal with problems, an attitude that can become very dangerous as it triggers a state of learned helplessness.
- The self-saboteur
At the slightest difficulty you sabotage yourself automatically. You take everything that happens as something personal and blame yourself for things over which you have no control. Your negative thoughts prevent you from thinking with logic, so you punish and criticize yourself incessantly. As a result, every time a problem arises, you lose self-esteem and self-confidence. This type of thinking causes you to become your worst enemy.
- The extremist
When something happens you can only see the extremes. This type of negative thinking, also called dichotomous thinking, makes you see the world in black and white, all or nothing, without medium terms. By forgetting the range of grays and intermediate colors, you will find it difficult to find a good solution and will feel a lot of anxiety since you assume that any decision is a path with no return.
- The tagger
You label whatever happens in negative terms because you can only see the dramatic consequences of the situation. The problem is that by placing those labels, you cannot see the possibilities that a situation can contain, so that you close the path to the solution. Also, this type of negative thinking can cause you to self-label yourself ending up developing a very limited image of yourself and your potential.
- Tunnel vision
When you have a problem your vision is immediately reduced, like when you enter a tunnel. You can only see the negative things, the problems, mistakes and shortcomings. You fail to appreciate any positive detail, possibility or strength, so that you fall into a downward spiral of negativity. This type of negative thinking is based on the phenomenon known as selective attention. In practice, it is as if you put on blinders and sunglasses, so that you only see a very limited part of the reality, missing the most important part to find a solution.
- The generalizer
When you have a problem your mind wanders and begins to make free connections between the present and the events of the past. These connections lead you to make erroneous and negative generalizations, normally recognizable in words such as “never”, “always” or “all”. This type of generalization often leads to take hasty conclusions about something that has not yet happened, thinking that the results or consequences will be disastrous. Obviously, with each affirmation of that type you lose a bit of self-esteem and strength, condemning yourself to a cycle of negativity.
- The impostor
Because of your tendency to compare yourself, you constantly magnify the positive aspects you notice in everyone else, but minimize your own strengths and talents. This kind of negative thinking makes you feel like you are an impostor and do not deserve what you have. You are afraid that the others will discover that you are not so smart, capable, kind or brilliant, when what really happens is that you have a problem of self-esteem. In fact, it is likely that you are a victim of what is known as “mind reading”, a phenomenon according to which you presuppose what others are thinking.
- The superhero
You try hard not to disappoint anyone, you’re proud doing everything, whatever the cost is. Your life is governed by the “I must” and ” I should” to the point that you forget completely what you really want. The problem is that every time you realize that you cannot save the world, your self-esteem plummets and you experience an extreme disappointment. In fact, it is one of the most harmful types of negative thoughts because you think in terms of “duties” and “obligations,” causing that your life, decisions and mood depend entirely on the others.