How to break out of irrational thinking and thrive

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Irrational thinking is usually thinking that is not stemmed out of logic, reason, or evidence. It may be based on past experiences, an assumption, or an overestimation of positive or negative outcomes.

Often, we are unaware of these irrational thoughts until they stop serving us or we read a book or come across someone who shows us a different way of thinking and being. For some people, this can be an “epiphany” or revelation.

You might be facing irrational thinking if you relate to any of these scenarios:

  • Your decisions are based on what others prefer
  • You think in “black and white” (it’s my way or the highway!)
  • You often have regrets and harshly judge yourself over mistakes

This article will cover the following topics:

  • What is irrational thinking?
  • How to identify irrational thinking?
  • The impact of irrational thinking.
  • How to break out of irrational thinking

Let’s begin.

What are irrational thoughts?

Irrational thoughts are caused by unhelpful thinking styles or cognitive distortions. These can include:

  • Black and white thinking (it’s all or nothing)
  • Catastrophic thinking (worst case scenarios)
  • Jumping to conclusions (such as imagining we know what someone might be thinking)
  • Labelling (self or others)
  • Shoulds and Musts (criticizing ourself or others)
  • Overgeneralising (this always happens)
  • and more.

How much of your life is patterns of behaviour? How many of those patterns do you wish were different but no matter how hard you try, you succumb to previously learned behaviours?

Subconscious programs are made up of things we do automatically and beliefs we hold innately which have become patterns in our lives. When we try to do something different or view ourselves in a different light, our subconscious mind goes, “nope! back to your comfort zone please. change is scary. you are not xyz, you are abc”.

So we continue in our existing patterns and the subconscious mind gets even stronger.

Let’s look at a small example. Suppose you feel like you spend too much time on Instagram and want to cut down to an hour a day.

What stops you from changing this pattern could be your subconscious saying, “but we always spend every bored minute of our day scrolling”

Here are some ideas to break out of irrational thinking

Start small. Baby steps. Even if it means focusing on the next 10 minutes, do that. For example, you have been scrolling on IG for way longer than you wanted to, so for the next 10 minutes put your phone away.

Do something you wanted to do, maybe drink some water and get a breath of fresh air.

Practice. Put an alarm on your phone. A note on your mirror. Remind yourself to take 10 minutes away from your phone. One day that 10 minutes might turn into an hour.

One day might turn into a week of doing the same thing, then month, then years, and hey, you’ve just created a new pattern. And maybe you didn’t even notice!

Recognize WHY you want to change your pattern. The WHY is extremely important. It is your motivating factor. This is what will anchor you and prevent you from falling back into old patterns.

It’s okay if you do fall back into old patterns. We are only human and change is hard. Keep trying.

Surround yourself with supportive people. People who will respect your desire to make a change. People who will hold you accountable.

This could be a trusted friend, family member, colleague, or therapist. You could use an app, but there’s something special about human connection.

And if you could use a little help in working through those irrational thoughts and building healthy thinking patterns, reach out anytime for a chat.

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