Have you ever noticed yourself stuck in a negative loop of thinking similar to a hamster running on a wheel? Your thoughts just keep spinning and spinning, yet, you’re going nowhere. Well, this may be due to “Thinking Traps.” Don’t worry, we all have them.
“Think Traps” can impact more than just our thoughts, but our mood and actions. When we get stuck in a negative thought our mood starts to go downhill, and this impacts our actions. What makes this even more dangerous is that if we don’t break the cycle our “Thinking Traps” can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Let me show you how it works:
Teen’s thought: No one likes me…Which Leads to..
Teen’s Mood: Feeling Depressed…Which Leads to…
Teen’s Action…Isolation…Which Leads to…Teen’s friends not reaching out as much which reinforces the belief that “no one likes me…” which leads to
Teen’s new thought: I’m unlovable…So forth and So on…
What To Do? Tips To Break The Thinking Traps Cycle:
Let me be real with you for a minute. One of the most common suggestions for this is to “challenge the distorted thinking.” This is all fine and well, BUT, when your thoughts are betraying you how are you going to believe your new more positive thought?
I find breaking the thought cycle first is the most effective way to deal with a Thinking Trap. This can be accomplished by reestablishing your mind/body connection. In Teen DBT Group this week we learn how to use mindfulness to observe and describe the physical sensations of our feelings to help break our thought cycles. This allows us to experience our feelings as mindful observers without the being on our judgmental hamster wheel.
Once you have reestablished your mind/body connection and your thoughts are no longer going round and round then you can gently challenge the thought. For example, asking yourself, “How do I know if this is accurate?” “Is this thought effective for me?” “Am I making assumptions?” or “Is there another explanation?”
The ability to begin to recognize your thinking traps and mindfully break the cycle can improve your mood. It can help shift you out of negative thinking and help you to engage in more positive behaviors!