How to Overcome Your Unhelpful Thinking Styles

Learning about my unhelpful thinking styles was a complete eye-opener!

Justine McGrath


Image courtesy of Psychology Tools. The link is below in the article.

I am currently finished the first quarter of another year of learning and study — that’s the way I like it! This year I am finally getting around to qualifying with the International Coaching Federation — the Gold Standard (in my view) of executive coaching.

Boy, am I learning a lot! In a recent one-day workshop we looked at Unhelpful Thinking Styles. There were 10 listed on the sheet. As I read down them, I felt my stomach sink into my boots — too many of them sounded familiar and I recognized repeated patterns of unhelpful thinking. The trainer asked us to note our top 3 unhelpful thinking patterns. That took me all of about 10 seconds.

The beauty of having spent some time reflecting on them is now I can make positive changes. So dear reader, I am going to share all ten styles with you and invite you to reflect on which ones may be your Achilles heel.

This list is thanks to

The examples, additional content, and explanations are mine.

  1. All or Nothing Thinking — Sometimes called ‘black and white thinking.’

Examples of how we would use this style: ‘The World is an Evil Place.’

‘It has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing.’

2. Mental Filter. This type of thinking is about only paying attention to certain types of evidence. For example, focusing solely on our failures but paying no attention whatsoever to our successes.

For example — we receive 6 pieces of positive feedback and 1 piece of negative feedback and we pay no attention to the 6 positive but only to the 1 negative.

3. Jumping to Conclusions. There are two key types of jumping to conclusions: Mind Reading (imagining we know what others are thinking)

Fortune telling: (predicting the future — usually incorrectly and with a slant perhaps to the negative or to catastrophizing (see number 8.)

4. Emotional Reasoning. Assuming that because we feel a certain way what we think must be true.

For example: I feel stupid so I must…



Justine McGrath

ICF certified Executive Coach. Specialist in EI. Author ‘Conversations with my Father — Jack Kyle,’ and ‘The Elephant Crossing.’