Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Thought Patterns

Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Thought Patterns

The mind can get inundated with thoughts, some of them useful and helpful and others harmful and unhealthy. We can’t control our thoughts, but we can bring greater awareness to their patterns and try to cultivate healthy thinking. Here are a few examples of unhealthy thought patterns and alternatives that are more sustainable and nurturing. The first step is tuning into your thoughts and being aware.

All-or-Nothing Thinking

If you’re using words such as “never”, “always” or “forever” you’re probably in all-or-nothing thinking. These kinds of thought patterns arise when we choose to see things in black and white, rather than the nuances of grey where most of life exists. Try to spot places in your life where you’re using all-or-nothing thinking and remember that life is filled with grey areas. Take it one step at a time.


Overgeneralization refers to sweeping everything into one big category. If you fall off the wagon or something goes wrong, you say to yourself “nothing ever goes my way” or “I do everything wrong” or “I mess everything up.” These are unhealthy thoughts and sweeping generalizations. If you catch yourself overgeneralizing, try to focus on the situation at hand. Replace generalizing thoughts with ideas about what you could do better next time. Everyone makes mistakes.


Personalization happens when we think that everything is our fault. When an event or situation happens that wasn’t in your control, you might start to blame yourself and feel guilty and shameful. If you catch yourself engaging in personalization, remember that you don’t have the power to dictate others’ behaviors. Repeat to yourself “this is not about me” and try to practice healthy non-attachment. 

Negative Mental Filters

Have you ever applied a negative mental filter? This happens when we hone in on one the negative and amplify it, rather than focusing on the positive. If we had a great day but it rained, we focus on the rain. If the meeting was wonderful but one person engaged in crosstalk, we focus on the crosstalk. If you catch yourself applying a negative mental filter, turn it around and try to apply a positive filter. What went right? What feels good?


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at  (855) 202-2138.

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