When you experience an unhelpful emotions such as depression or anxiety, it is usually followed by a number of unhelpful self-statements and thoughts. Most of the things we realise are that we use unhelpful thinking styles as an automatic habit and it is something that we are not always aware of. Whenever a person constantly and consistently utilises some of these thinking styles, they can often cause themselves a great amount of emotional distress. In this list, you will notice some thinking patterns and styles that you may have consistently use.


1. All or nothing thinking

Also known as the “black and white thinking.” This thinking style involves viewing only one extreme or the other. You are either right or wrong, good or bad, and so on. There are no in-betweens, balance or shades of grey.



If i’m not suited for the job, I have failed

Either I do it right or not at all



2. Overgeneralising

Seeing a pattern based upon a single event, or being overly broad in the conclusions we draw. Once we overgeneralise, we take one instance in the past or present and impose it on all current or future outcomes. If we state “You always…” or “Everyone…”, or “I never…” then we are overgeneralising.



Everything is always wrong whenever I start working on a project

Nothing good ever happens to me


3. Mental filter

Only paying attention to certain types of evidence. This thinking style involves filtering in and filtering out process which is akin to tunnel vision, focusing on only 1 section of a situation while ignoring the rest. Generally, this means looking at the negative part of a situation and neglecting the positive parts, and the whole picture is coloured by what may be a single negative detail.



Noticing your own failures but not seeing your own successes


4. Disqualifying the positive

Discounting the good things that have happened or that you have done for some reason or another.


That doesn’t count even though it’s the right way.


5. Jumping to conclusions

We tend to jump to conclusions when we assume that we know that person is thinking(mind reading) and when we make predictions about what is going to occur in the future(predictive thinking). There are two key types of jumping to conclusions:

  • Mind reading: Imagining we know what others are thinking
  • Fortune telling: Predicting the future


6. Magnification(catastrophizing) & minimisation

Blowing things out of proportion(catastrophizing) or inappropriately shrinking something to make it seem less important. In this thinking style, you magnify the positive attributes of other people and minimise your own positive attributes. It’s as though you are neglecting  your own positive characteristics.



7.Emotional reasoning

Assuming that because we feel a certain way what we think must be true. This thinking style involves basing your view of situations or yourself on the way you are feeling. For example, the only evidence that something bad is going to occur is that you sense something bad is going to happen.



I feel bad about it, so I must be the cause of it.


8. Shoulding and musting

Using critical words like “should,” “must,” or “ought” can make us feel guilty or like we have already failed. If we apply “shoulds” to other people, the result is often frustrating. Even though these statements are not always unhelpful, for example, “I should not work overtime and go back home late” they can sometimes develop unrealistic expectations.



9. Labelling

Assigning labels to ourselves or other people when we make global statements based on behaviour in specific situations. We might use this label even though there are many more examples that are not consistent with that label.


I’m completely hopeless when it comes to fixing problems.

They’re such an idiot for not following my advice.




Blaming yourself or taking responsibility for something that wasn’t completely your fault. Conversely, blaming others for something that was your fault.


Which unhelpful thinking style have you experienced before and how you overcome it? Leave us your thoughts on the comment sections below. Head over to Jobstore.com and unveil your next job opportunity.

You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

Reach me at youjing@jobstore.com