​Check for unhelpful thinking traps:

How often do you find yourself looking for the bad things that happen?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you find yourself looking for the things that go wrong?
Never        Sometimes        Often         All of the time

How often do you ignore or overlook the positive or good things that happen?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you play down the positive or good things that happen?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you find yourself using all-or-nothing thinking?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you think you know what other people are thinking about you?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you expect things to go wrong?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you think that things are not good enough unless they are perfect?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you find yourself thinking that you ‘should’ do this or that?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

How often do you blame yourself for the things that happen or go wrong?
Never        Sometimes         Often         All of the time

When we get stuck in these thinking traps, it’s important we get a more balanced view of what is going on. The following questions might be help you to get a more balance view:

  • What evidence is there to support this thought?
  • What evidence is there to question this thought?
  • What would my best friend say if they heard me thinking in this way?
  • What would I say to my best friend if he or she had this thought? 

What can you do?

How you think and what you do affects how you feel.  Our minds are always busy. We are always thinking about all sorts of things. Many of our thoughts are about what is going on around us. Some of our thoughts are about:

The way we see ourselves:
I’m no good
I’m ugly
I’m a good son/daughter

How we judge what we do:
I’m hopeless at school
I’m good at sports.
I’m not good at keeping mum happy

Our view of the future:
No one will ever want like me.
I’ll never go to university
I’ll be happy when I’m older


The thoughts we have about ourselves and our future can be:

Automatic – they just happen. They pop up without you having to think of them.
Distorted – when you stop and check you will find that they don’t always fit all the facts.
Continuous – they can’t easily be turned off.
Seem true – even when they’re not

When these thoughts are unhelpful (e.g. I’m no good), they make us feel awful and change the way we behave.  Sometimes these thoughts can be influenced by others e.g. I’m only a good person when I do what my parent tells me. 

Here are some of the unhelpful thinking traps we can fall into:

Negative glasses – when you only see the negatives and ignore the positives. If you have a good time, you will still find things that were wrong and then you only see these negative things.

Positives don’t count – When positive are dismissed. You might have a good day with you parent until you start thinking about all the negative things your other parent has told you about them.

All-or-nothing thinking – When you think everything and everyone is good or bad. There is no in-between. You might think one parent is perfect while your other parent is all bad. You might have an argument with your parent and think you’re a bad son/daughter because you made them mad.

Magnifying the negative – When the importance of things that happen is exaggerated.
Negative events are magnified and blown up out of all proportion.

The mind reader – When you think you know what another person is thinking or feeling about you. You might think you parent doesn’t love you when you have no concrete information to support this.

Fortune-telling – When you think you know what will happen. Like thinking if you see your other parent they will be awful to you, even when you have no concrete information to support this.

Shoulds – When you have rules on how you should behave and how others should behave and when these shoulds don’t happen, you can feel disappointed or angry.

Blame me – When you decide you are to blame for everything that’s gone wrong, even when these things were outside of your control. Like blaming yourself for your parents deciding to split up.