OWL (Offer of Wise-Minded Learning): Extreme Emotions, Extreme Thoughts
Extreme negativity prevents wise-minded problem solving, and there are some classic distorted thinking patterns we should all work to avoid. See if any of these, identified by David Burns, M.D. (feelinggood.com), are familiar to you:
- All-or-nothing thinking. Black and white thinking patterns. (I’m right/you’re wrong. I’m going to ace the test/flunk the test.).
- Overgeneralization. A negative feeling or event colors your entire assessment (My son’s birthday party was ruined by his rude reactions to me.).
- Mental filter. You screen out everything outside of the preoccupying negative threat (My daughter is not college material with her math grades.).
- Jumping to conclusions. The negative threat mushrooms to assumptions that lack support. Negative forecasting. You presume that something will be terrible in the future.
- Catastrophizing or minimizing. Blowing things up to a worst-case scenario and dismissing good things.
- Feelings altar. Assuming that because you feel it, it must be true.
- “Should” statements. You try to motivate or punish yourself or others with expectations that things “should” be a certain way. This can result in a guilt trip, and more anger, frustration, shame and resentment--and it doesn’t motivate.
- Personalization. Assuming that you have primary responsibility for something bad (My daughter’s social problems are my fault.).
- Labeling/name calling. Attaching a label to yourself or another that encourages overly negative assessments (She’s a brat. I’m a bad mother).
Read more about negativity traps and the “The Importance of Positive Emotions” in Wise-Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens, in chapter 5: Emotional Flourishing.