Negative Thinking Patterns Alternatives Part 4

Here are the last 4 alternate ways of thinking that are healthier and less destructive: 12.  Fallacy of Change:  You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough.  You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

Alternate:  Recognizing that no one can "change" another person is  good start to healthier thinking.  Also, recognizing that each of us are responsible for our own happiness.  It is unfair to put that expectation on another person-- to do so is setting up the situation to be disappointing for you, and can feel overwhelming to the other person and create resentment in them (who wants to feel responsible for someone else's happiness??!).  Instead of pressuring a person to change, learn to set boundaries about what you will and will not allow.  The difference is that with boundaries, YOU are the person who makes changes... those changes can in turn influence change in others around you.

13.  Global Labeling:  You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgement.

Alternative:  Recognize the "all or nothing", "black and white" thinking pattern, and ask yourself if there is an exception to the generalization you are making.  Learn to challenge your labels by trying to see the "grey" area, and ask yourself "where is the evidence to support this label?".  Be open to learning more about whatever the subject of this label might be, which will help in challenging your thinking.

14.  Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness. (We see this one quite frequently in marriage counseling).

Alternative:  Being wrong is inevitable and is part of a safe and humble relationship.  Remind yourself that if you are constantly trying to prove how "right" you are, and can't admit when you are wrong, you are only pushing people away and destroying intimacy in the process.

15.  Heaven's Reward Fallacy:  You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn't come.

Alternative:  Each of us is an active participant in our lives, which includes choices-- even if it is a choice to do nothing. We also reap either the rewards or the consequences of our choices.  If we choose to sacrifice, that was our choice-- no one else can be responsible for that.  Changing our expectations to embrace that sometimes (often times), we don't get the outcomes we had hoped to get, and recognize that disappointment is part of life.  Inevitably, regardless of the circumstances, we are each responsible to cope with our feelings-- no one else can do that for us!

Check back next week... the therapists at Imagine Hope will be discussing perfectionism!

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.