positive thinking


Last night, my ward {neighbor friends and church members} came together for a lesson on positive thinking.  Typically my response to a lesson such as this, would probably have been along the lines of, "Interesting, too bad I'm the least positive person ever."  And I may not have gone.  But, one my dearest friends was teaching and, whether she thinks so or not, happens to be one of the most positive people I know... you know, a person that radiates happiness and joy to all!  So, I went and knew that I would not be disappointed.  

At the beginning we played a quick game.  Ten people solved a difficult puzzle together and discussed how we felt after.  Were we self-conscious?  Were we willing to share our answers?  Were we able to communicate with others comfortably?  I, of course, stood there and let everyone else figure it out while I quietly thought through the problem.  When I finally came to the solution, I was comfortable sharing my thoughts.  But, I was also very aware of the fact that I was a little slower to come to the solution than other participates.  And thus led into our discussion on positive thinking.

We were given a list title "15 Styles of Distorted or Errored Thinking."  I seriously LOVE this list and will keep it hung in my house forever.  I am definitely one who struggles with positive thinking, but have been working hard on changing those thoughts over the past year.  While I have come a long way, I know I have a ton of work to do.  Here is a brief summary of the 15 styles:

  1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them, while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Polarized thinking:  You tend to perceive everything at the extremes - black or white, good or bad.  The harmful impact with this is on how you judge yourself, for example, you have to be perfect or you are a failure.
  3. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single event or piece of evident.  'Always' and 'Never' are cues for this style of thinking.  This can lead to a restricted life as you avoid future failures.
  4. Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do.  In particular, you are able to define how people are feeling toward you.
  5. Catastrophizing: You expect disaster.  You notice or hear about a problem and start "what if's."
  6. Personalization: This is the tendency to relate everything around you to yourself.  You interpret each experience, each conversation, each look as a clue to your worth or value.
  7. Control Fallacies: There are two ways you can distort you sense of power and control - internal and external.  If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as a victim.  Internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.  You may feel exhausted or guilty as you try to fill the needs of others.
  8. Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what's fair, but other people won't agree with you.
  9. Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other track, and blame yourself for every problem.
  10. Should's: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.  Cues words that indicate the presence of this distortion are "should" "ought" and "must."
  11. Emotional reasoning: You believe what you feel must be true - automatically.  If you feel stupid or boring, then you must be stupid or boring.  
  12. Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure them enough.  You need to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them {this is false, of course}.
  13. Global labeling: You generalize one or two qualities {in yourself or others} into a negative global judgement.  Labeling yourself can harm your self-esteem; while labeling others can lead to snap-judgements.
  14. Being right: You feel continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  You will go to any length to prove your rightness.  Being right becomes more important than an honest and caring relationship.
  15. Heaven' Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there was someone keeping score.  You feel bitter when the reward doesn't come as expected.  For example, you stay home with your kids every day and your husband likes to play sports in the evening.  You never say no, hoping he will offer to give you a break soon.  You slowly become bitter because your husband isn't recognizing your feelings, but is out having fun with his friends while you are left home... again.. with the kids.
While I know this is long, I found it VERY helpful.  Unfortunately there are many distortions on this list that I need to work on, but having someone tell me that I shouldn't  be thinking a certain way is great {in a positive environment, of course}.  I'm excited to work on my thoughts and improve my life, just by eliminating negative words with positive words.  For moms, these are especially helpful because it's so easy to look at our failures, rather than our successes.  Are you up for the challenge?  Try seeing yourself the way Heavenly Father intended... as a beautiful, strong, amazing Daughter of God.

Here's to positive thinking!


  1. Cool cool info - I love those categories of thought! They make sense. Thanks for sharing this, Kels!

  2. Love this! Those are some kind compliments from you, my friend! Thanks :)

  3. What a great list, I will have to read through it again and work on some of this myself :)


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