5 Harmful Thought Patterns and how to Overcome them


5 schädliche Denkmuster und wie du sie überwindest

Climate crisis, energy crisis, inflation, pandemic… Currently, we are confronted with several crises simultaneously, which not only affect us personally with their accompanying effects but also pose significant challenges to the economy. Strong nerves are required not only in private but also in work contexts. But how can we keep a cool head in challenging times to cope well with these crises, act wisely, and maintain mental health? Our thinking plays a central role in this. Here we present to you 5 harmful thought patterns and what you can do about them.


Harmful Thought Patterns and Beliefs


Behind a thought pattern lie deeply ingrained beliefs within us. The problem: Often, these subjectively perceived truths are actually destructive convictions that lead to unfavorable actions. In tense situations, it often happens that instead of acting wisely and reducing stress, we are driven by an inner conviction to exacerbate our own stress. Let’s look at 5 typical thought patterns that weaken us mentally instead of strengthening us:



1. Typical thought pattern: the “Be perfect” thinking


The “Be perfect” thinking particularly turns performance situations into stress situations. For people trapped in this thought pattern, typical beliefs include:

“It is not acceptable if I cannot complete a task.”

“I must always be available for my job.”

“There is nothing worse than making mistakes.”

“People must be able to rely on me completely.”


2. Typical thought pattern: the “Be liked” thinking


The “Be liked” thinking turns conflictual interpersonal performance situations into stress situations. Typical thoughts for such individuals include:

“I don’t want to disappoint others.”

“It’s terrible if others are angry with me.”

“I must get along with everyone.”

“It’s bad when others criticize me.”

“It’s important for everyone to like me.”


3. Typical thought pattern: the “Be strong” thinking


The “Be strong” thinking turns situations of one’s own need for help and weakness into stress situations. Typical thoughts for such individuals include:

“I prefer to do everything myself.”

“Strong people don’t need help.”

“If I rely on others, I will be left alone.”

“Nothing works without me.”

“It’s terrible to depend on others.”


4. Typical thought pattern: the “Be cautious” thinking


The “Be cautious” thinking turns uncontrollable, uncertain situations into stress situations. Typical thoughts for such individuals include:

“It’s bad when things don’t go as planned.”

“I must have everything under control.”

“I must be one hundred percent sure when making decisions.”

“I must constantly think about what could happen.”

“It’s bad not to know what’s coming.”

“I won’t be able to maintain my standard of living.”


5. Typical thought pattern: the “I can’t do it” thinking


The “I can’t do it” thinking turns situations where unpleasant tasks, personal effort, or frustration are looming into stress situations. Typical thoughts for such individuals include:

“I can’t endure this.”

“I will fail.”

“I can’t do it.”

“I can’t handle this pressure.”

“Problems and difficulties are simply terrible.”

“I will be fired because of my illness.”

“I won’t find a new job at my age.”


What you can do


Have you identified yourself in one or more of these thought patterns? Then you’ve already taken the first step to overcome harmful thinking. First and foremost, we need to become aware of these harmful beliefs and expose them. It’s important to know that some beliefs are based on positive personal values, such as reliability, good relationships, loyalty, or the aspiration to deliver high-quality work. However, no one can meet such demands in absolute terms. So, it’s about reformulating our own beliefs, figuring out how to live our values healthily without harming ourselves and consciously considering our own limitations. Ask yourself: What would be the worst thing that could happen if others don’t like me/I’m not strong/I make a mistake…? Often, this helps to expose overwhelming demands on oneself.

Other beliefs, such as those in the realm of “I can’t do it” thinking, are fundamentally negative and block the coping of challenging situations. Here, the goal is to turn negative beliefs into positive ones by affirming them to yourself daily. Only when I repeatedly tell myself, for example, “I can do this,” do I have the mental freedom to actually accomplish it, activate my own strengths, and find solutions.



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