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Stuck in a Thought Trap? How to Break Free from Unhelpful Thinking Patterns

Updated: May 14



Mental Health Awareness Week is upon us and one area of mental health that not everyone is aware of is how some of our thought processes sneakily make daily life really tough. 


Don’t worry, we’re going to uncover them. 


Facts Vs NATs


Negative automatic thoughts are spontaneous, self-defeating thoughts around a person, situation or environment. For you, this might be believing things like no one will ever want to date you, you shouldn’t join a club because everyone will hate you there or you’ll never succeed. While it’s hard to “get rid” of NATs, one thing you can do is challenge those thoughts. Ask yourself, is this thought a fact or a NAT? Why do I believe this to be true? Should I let this thought change my actions/inaction? 


Is There Safety in Safety Behaviour?


Safety behaviour is behaviour that gives you a hollow sense of comfort. For example, perhaps you drink or use drugs to feel more relaxed in social settings. To identify a safety behaviour, ask yourself, “Is this something that makes things better or makes things feel better?”


Fortune Telling: A Superpower or Super Inconvenience?


Fortune telling is predicting future negative outcomes despite a lack of certainty. Sometimes we use this to “brace ourselves” for a potential negative outcome we’re worried about. Unfortunately, most of the time, fortune-telling can lead to a real mess. Maybe you didn’t bother revising because you “just knew” you were going to fail. Maybe you push loved ones away because “they’re going to leave you.” The best way to combat fortune-telling is by talking about your worries to someone. 


With all unhelpful thought processes, speaking to someone can help put your mind at ease. By listening to a third party who knows you well, they can help you identify patterns and put things into perspective. By talking your worries through, you can get to the core of the problem and take steps to nurture a healthier mindset.

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