They’re common to many forms of mental illness, and they can afflict most of us at one time or another during our lives, even if we don’t suffer from any disease at all.

Table showing negative thinking habits

Once we start “seeing” through the lens of one or more of these thinking patterns, we’re many times more likely to distort reality, make poor decisions, and wallow in negative feelings–exactly what we don’t need to promote a stable recovery.

Most of these negative thinking habits are based on assumptions.   They aren’t exclusive to people coping with addiction, by the way.  They’re common to many forms of mental illness, and they can afflict most of us at one time or another during our lives, even if we don’t suffer from any disease at all.

The key to “unlearning” negative thinking patterns is based on questioning the assumptions that underlie them.  Here are eight questions that you can learn and use to help yourself “unthink” the habits that are driving you nuts:

  1. Am I confusing a thought or a feeling with a fact?
  2. Am I ‘reading minds’, presuming to know what other people think or feel?
  3. Am I putting things in terms of ‘all or nothing’?
  4. How would this situation look to someone other than me? Have I taken the time to ask other people what they think of my problems?
  5. Am I getting closer to a solution or just rehashing old stuff?
  6. Am I wasting time on questions that have no answers?
  7. Am I acting as if something is inevitable when it may not happen at all?
  8. Am I overlooking strengths and focusing exclusively on weaknesses?
Based on the principles of Rational Emotive Therapy™

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