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  • jennifermerritt1

8 Types of Negative Thinking

Our minds have clever and persistent ways of convincing us of something that isn't really true.

We all fall victim to our inner critic from time to time but if you allow it to become programmed and habitual it can start to negatively impact your quality of life and your ability to achieve the great things you are destined for.

Whether you are a mind reader, a labeller or an emotional reasoner, being able to recognise the negative thinking and its triggers is the key to unlocking freedom from it.

You can reprogram your mind incrementally by breaking existing patterns of negative thought cycles so you respond less and less with your inner grouchy who holds you back from happiness and success.

If you have strong negative thought cycles which you struggle to break or even identify the cause of then I recommend you seek some support in the form of a qualified coach, NLP Practitioner or CBT Therapist, all of which can help you gain clarity and personal action plans to manage your mindset.


Do you recognise your internal voice of negative self talk in any of these examples?


Do you often assume you know and understand what someone else is thinking. It might sound a bit like "they are not listening to me because they don't care”.

You may well be able to deduce when someone is not listening to you, but why is an assumption you are making. There may be a plausible and inoffensive explanation for why someone appears not to be listening.

They could just be tired and struggling to focus due to a night of not sleeping well.


This is like a mental filter that encourages you to see only the negative aspects of a circumstance instead of the positive or even neutral elements. It can mean you form conclusions based on little or selective detail, and often drawn more to the negative.

For example - 'I failed that test because I only got 95% right.' The attention in this example is on the 5% error not the 95% success, selecting to focus on the negative not the overwhelming positive.


Also known as dichotomous thinking.

There are no grey areas for you. You mostly think and see events in only two categories, binary black or white. Because there is no middle ground, a common distortion you might experience is when you think something is not all of what you want then you don’t want it or it is not good enough.

For example - 'If I don't get the job I am a failure.' This often means you strive for the best, but be careful not to fall into the trap of searching for perfection all the time.


This is where you take one negative event and create a pattern based on this outcome. For example - 'I was stood up, therefore I will always be let down.'

Creating a strong belief that shapes your entire life based on an uncommon event or occurrence can be very limiting. Yes, being stood up is a terrible thing to experience, but it does not mean everyone in your life will let you down. That is generalising your experience.


Do you allow your feelings to drive your thoughts?

If you find yourself believing things you feel regardless of the lack of evidence for your thoughts then you may be prone to emotional reasoning.

Here are a few examples -

You Feel Lonely = 'No one Cares'

You Feel Jealous = 'She must be cheating on me'

You are frightened of Bananas = "Bananas are dangerous!" (Thinking Bananas are a bit random? This is my old debilitating phobia!)


Applying labels based on a negative distortion of behaviour, 'I didn't have anything to say, so I must be uninteresting' or ‘She tripped up, she's so clumsy’.

Labelling yourself or others with a negative label locks this into our thoughts and it becomes difficult to think or see it any different. In turn when we believe to be a label, we can act as though we are, the label starts to evolve and manifest into our actions, reactions and behaviours.


I have grouped these two opposite thinking types together as they work on the same principle; you give the situation more or less gravity than it deserves, exaggerated extremes.

One maximises the negative, or blow things out of proportion. For example - You are late for a meeting and say ‘OMG I am going to be fired’.

The other end of the scale is diminishing or minimising the positive or your worth. For example - You are promoted at work and play down your efforts by saying 'It was just luck.'


You hold and think in strong and inflexible and restrictive beliefs.

Using language like 'Must, Ought, Should'.

‘I should be able to give this presentation with confidence’ if you are feeling anxious already this negative language of ‘should’ will exacerbate the nerves.

Switch the statement to the affirmative ‘ I am able to give a confident presentation’.


Did you recognise yourself in any of the categories above? More than one?

Don’t despair, you are not alone.

I too have negative thought patterns, more than I would like to admit! BUT I don’t let them overtake or influence my life by applying methods to interrupt the pattern.


Whenever you have a distorted thought, stop and evaluate whether it is warranted.

Try these two simple strategies below. Habits take time to become automatic so don’t just do it once, rinse and repeat for optimum results.


🔹 What is the evidence for my thinking?

🔹 What is the evidence against my thinking?

🔹 How can I find out if my thoughts are true?


🔸 What is the best thing that could happen?

🔸 What is the most likely thing that could happen?

🔸 What is the worst thing that could happen?


“A negative thinker will see the difficulty in every opportunity. A positive thinker will see the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Need to get your negative thoughts under control and life back on track? My NLP Sessions are the answer, I invite you to book a complimentary consultation to discuss.

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