tug of warIf you are living and breathing, chances are you get caught in a thought trap every once in a while. No one is completely immune. We can however become more aware and identify these unhelpful ways of thinking.

Thought traps, also known as cognitive distortions, are ways that our minds convince us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate or illogical thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions. They serve to reassure and keep us from feeling bad about ourselves, but can often end up creating more harm then good.

Cognitive distortions are commonly addressed in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and other areas of psychology. They are extremely relevant to our everyday life and relationships. People who are wrestling with depression or anxiety tend to be prone to certain thought traps, which got me thinking about the common negative thought patterns faced by various romantic attachment styles. Each attachment style has a very unique approach and mindset surrounding their relationships, leading to a wide variety of negative thought patterns.

This week let’s take a look at the anxious attachment style.

The anxious attachment style is characterized by moderate to high anxiety in relationships and low levels of avoidance. These individuals tend to have a “spidey sense” for changes in emotions and emotional distance in their relationship, and have a strong desire to know that everything is stable and okay. For more information on this style you can browse here.

Given that the anxious attachment style has a very unique approach and perspective regarding relationships, there are some key thoughts traps that are important to know:

  • Personalizing: taking something personally when there are several other possible reasons for the situation. For example, someone doesn’t text you back for over three hours and you think that you must have done something wrong. When the real reason they didn’t text you back is that they were in meetings all afternoon.
  • Mindreading: supposing you know what someone is thinking and what they are going to say, when in reality those are just your assumptions. For example, predicting that your partner is going to tell you that your fears or concerns are stupid and not valid.
  • Predicting Negative Outcomes: also known as worst case thinking – always believing that the worst possible outcome will happen in a situation. For example, believing that the person you are dating is going to reject and abandon you. Often people try to brace themselves for heartbreak before it happens, but it often leads us to act in a way that brings heartbreak upon ourselves.
  • Delusions: holding tightly to false beliefs despite all of the evidence against them. For example, holding onto the belief that your partner will change, when all realistic evidence suggests otherwise.
  • Emotional reasoning: using your feelings to guide your thoughts and decision-making. For example, “I feel like something is wrong” therefore it must be, or “I fear and worry that my partner is going to break up with me” therefore believing that they will.

Don’t panic if you feel like you get stuck in all of those traps, I even find them sneaking up on me every once in a while. The key to dealing with these negative thought patterns effectively is to:

  • First, pay attention to and identify your thoughts. So often our self-talk is mindless rambling in our head that we don’t pay attention too—but we need to! It has more of an impact on you then you think.
  • Second, when you identify some of these thoughts, write them down and keep track of them. Putting them on paper or in a note on your phone helps you to remember and be more aware.
  • Third, instead of just believing the negative thoughts, learn to question them. Weigh the evidence for and against, and try to get to the realistic thoughts and facts of the situation.
  • Lastly, if your still stuck, talk to a trusted friend and ask their opinion. Friends can be more objective and can help us to weight the facts in a more realistic, less emotionally charged way.

Have you been working to overcome some of the thought traps that come with having an anxious attachment style? I would love for you to comment and share some of the strategies that have worked best for you!

Thanks for reading! If you found this helpful, share the love with your friends so they too can learn how to improve their relationships. Subscribe to the blog and stay tuned next week where we will discuss the common thought traps faced by the avoidant attachment style.

Wishing you love,

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