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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Boyett

Three Ways of Thinking that Keep You from Changing

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

Have you ever thought about your thoughts? I mean, really analyzed the way you think. What I love about being a psychotherapist is that I get to help people examine their thought patterns. It’s quite interesting on an individual level, but common thought patterns pop up in unhappy individuals.

These three thought patterns can keep even a motivated person from changing:

1. Rumination

Rumi- what? Rumination is a fancy word for thinking about something over and over again. You know, like zoning out and thinking about the last moment you spent with your ex before getting dumped. How about reliving a past trauma over and over again in your mind. Rumination is a byproduct of living in the past. If you’re constantly dwelling on the past, you can’t actively engage in the present. Rumination keeps you stuck in old ways of thinking and behaving, preventing any positive change.

2. Over-thinking

If you’ve ever had a four year old child, you know that a favorite question to ask is “why.” Why is the sky blue? Why do people have toes? On and on it goes. For some people, overthinking means getting stuck on the whys. You may analyze why a situation is a certain way, so much to the point that you never get past wondering why. Your mind feels cluttered, and your thought processes deplete your mental energy. If you’re stuck in analyzing the why, then you can’t focus on how to change. Overthinking also includes fixation on other details such as how, when, where, to what extent, etc. It’s great to understand the dynamics of a situation, but overthinking can keep you trapped in the details and unable to focus on when, where, how, and why to change.

3. Negativity

I’m sure you know what negativity is. It’s that person who is never satisfied with anything. They look for the worst in a situation. They discount the positive and love to point out your flaws. Negativity keeps us stuck because it causes depression, hopelessness, and shame. If we get lost in negative thinking, we don’t feel the need to change. We’re so busy criticizing or complaining that we don’t look at what we can do to change the negative.

These thought processes are not easily broken, but it is possible to move away from unhelpful thought patterns when provided frequent encouragement and positive support. Many times, it takes a therapist to help you see the unpleasant effects of these ways of thinking. A therapist can help you get out of your head and examine your thoughts from a different perspective. Gaining insight about problematic areas is the first step to change. So, what are you waiting for? Go for it!

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