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Readers Respond: What Are Your Negative Thinking Patterns? What's Worked For You?

Responses: 11


Updated April 29, 2010

Negative thinking patterns can make the difference between a stressful life and an exciting one. Certain negative thinking patterns are common, and impact many of us. What are your habitual negative thinking patterns? Have you found strategies that help you to successfully combat negative thinking patterns? Share your experiences here, and see what works for others who are also dealing with the stress that comes from habitual negative thinking patterns.


The common denominator for me on everything that crops up producing anxiety is for me the key in not trying to control anything but myself: "stay in your own skin" I have to tell myself. I struggle so with expressing anger (lifelong) that I will use all kind of self-ploys to avoid it, which usually amounts to blaming the situation on the other person (therefore I can't do anything about it, goes my mistaken thinking), and moving on-- leaving all kinds of undigested anger to fester, where it usually turns into bad feelings about myself. If I can remind myself that it's OK to feel angry-- feel the anger & let it move on by me as emotions will do-- then it's time to take some action. Think clearly: what do I want to happen, & remember that the other person's emotions belong to him & OK for him to have too, & not anticipate nor judge his reaction, it's easier to state what I want & start a negotiation.

Things We Cannot Control

I learned in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (group therapy that is more like a class in that we have a manual, homework, lessons, etc.; it is a more intensive form of cognitive therapy) that I was letting things that I had NO CONTROL OVER ruin my attitude, my days, my life. I couldn't change other people's thoughts, behaviors or emotions. I could ask them to do so, but I could not make them do so. I had to learn to let other people make their choices & I could either accept them & continue the relationship (& stop bugging them to try to change them) or if the behaviors & such were harmful, immoral, illegal, etc. I could choose to not associate w/that person anymore. It is very freeing finally to not try to control & change the world. It is hard for me to see "unfairness" in the world, but I cannot change the world to make everything right & fair (according to me, of course!). I CAN change my attitude towards situations over which I have no control. I can let things go (finally)!!
—Guest Me Too

Others' Perception

I find myself stuck frequently -- ruminating about what others' perceptions "must" be. I made a mistake at work the other day, and because the mistake happened in front of my boss, there was no way to correct it before others knew. I was embarrassed, and after the event, I could not let it go. I find I struggle the most with being embarrassed by my own actions, especially when someone else sees or finds out. In this particular case, about six hours later I realized the truth -- I was trying to be helpful, doing a duty that doesn't fall within my responsibilities. I was finally able to give myself grace, knowing that the mistake was during a moment of trying to be helpful. This is the only thing that stopped the loop. Sometimes I'm not so lucky as to find a "key" to make the pattern stop. What does a person need to do when they can't seem to find the "key" to unlocking the feedback loop?

Hard to Handle

I used to blame poeple for not letting things go, but when it happened to me, I was not able to let it go. I had tried to forget, and forgive to no avail. I had even explained to my friend, but I can't let it go. Then I thought the best opium is to be occupied, keep myself busy and not to have time to think of it. Do you in anywhere think that is going to help me? I have already wasted one year over the issue . Bih
—Guest bih odette

My Experience

I did the same things that you shared. But later on, I find myself wasting my time blaming other people when I can fix the problem myself. I look for solutions and make sure not to repeat the same mistakes again.

The Promise

When I've had the chance to make new friends, somewhere along the line I will say, 'If I do anything ever to upset you or say anything to offend you, please, let me know, so we can understand each other and I can explain myself or how you perceived me.' I always thought this was a perfect way of starting a friendship I wanted to keep. Well, it's never worked, and I'm at a loss to explain why. I can be right in the middle of a few month friendship, where I am walking on eggs to make sure that I'm helpful to their needs. No matter what, the mutual promise never suceeds. I have had friends for 35 and 40 years-so I know that I am loved by them and we've never fought. I can get so sick from the others, b/c i don't understand them. What is wrong with people?
—Guest paris


I'm doing this right now about something that just happened to me at work. People are always challenging the answeres that I give them and want to pull rank on me. It makes me feel like they think I'm lying. I'm going to right my feelings in my journal and be done with it.


This use to be a real problem for me. I would hold on to things for hours that turned into days. Then one day, I was talking to my oldest daugther and she asked me ,"What do I gain from being upset over things and people I can not control?" I realize I gain nothing! That was a real eye opener for me. I was losing time with my family, friends and even with myself staying fixed on things I can't control. So now when something happens or someone says something I don't like I give myself 5 minutes to think about it then move on with my day. I also realized that day that my daugther was wise way beyond her years.
—Guest TaraL


For me it's ruminating and this tends to occur most often around events where something "unfair" happened to me or when someone duped me. These things can last days or weeks and almost always hit me when I wake up at 4am preventing me from going back to sleep. Seems like no matter what I do to stop them I keep reliving what went wrong and how I should have known better or done better.
—Guest MH

Should NOT

I find myself 'shoulding' a lot--I stress myself by thinking of what I 'should' be doing, and beating myself up for not doing that. Even just catching myself helps me stop.
—Guest Beth

Blame Game

I used to find myself looking for someone to blame when things went wrong--either myself or someone else. It started with an honest desire to figure out what went wrong in stressful situations so I could avoid repeating mistakes, but grew into something that caused me to be angry and self-critical much more often than I'd like to remember. Realizing that there can be responsibility without blame, and taking on the attitude that I need to break some eggs to make a good omelette, I was able to turn it around, for the most part. I'm much more easygoing now.
—Guest E. A.
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