Home
Chat online

Unhelpful thinking styles

If you can identify your unhelpful thinking styles, then you can start to notice them and that can help you challenge or distance yourself from those thoughts.

Thinking like a lawyer?

We can all develop unhelpful thinking styles at particular times of our lives, such as the ones described below.  If you can identify your unhelpful thinking styles, then you can start to notice them and that can help you challenge or distance yourself from those thoughts and see your situation in a different or more helpful way.
Brain 2
  • All or nothing – Sometimes called black and white thinking, this is believing that something or someone can only be good or bad, or everything has to be perfect and if it isn’t  you’ve failed; rather that anything in between or shades of grey
  • Mental filter – Only paying attention to certain types of evidence, for example ignoring the times you have been praised in favour of times you’ve been criticised, or focusing on your failures rather than your achievements.
    Jumping to conclusions – assuming you know what others are thinking, or that you know what the outcome of a situation will be, none of us can predict the future.
  • Emotional reasoning – assuming because you feel a certain way it must be true, for example just because you think ‘my boss hates me’ doesn’t mean she does. Feelings are just a reaction to thoughts.
    Labelling – Assigning unhelpful labels to yourself or others such as ‘weak’ or ‘stupid’
  • Over-generalising – Seeing a pattern based on a single event - for example having a difficult meeting with a client and then assuming future interactions will be similar.
  • Disqualifying the positive – Discounting the good things that have happened to you as if they were a one-off or a fluke.
  • Catastrophising/minimastion – blowing things out of proportion and believing the worst possible thing will happen or shrinking something to make it seem less important.
  • Shoulds and musts  – thinking or saying  ‘I should’ and  ‘I must’ puts pressure on ourselves and sets up unrealistic expectations.
  • Personalisation – taking responsibility or taking the blame for something that wasn’t your fault.
Tips for dealing with unhelpful thinking styles
  • Focus on the here and now - what is actually happening in this moment. Is there another perspective?
  • Talk to people about your feelings – ask them for feedback
  • Keep a list or folder of your achievements and look at it when you need to.
  • Talk to yourself as you would a friend.
  • Distract yourself from your thoughts – read a book, take some exercise, see a friend, do something you enjoy.
Can't Sleep

We're here to listen...without judgement

Contact our free, confidential, emotional support service for the legal community
0800 279 6888
Email our support team support@lawcare.org.uk

Your Stories 

Real stories of people in the legal community who have experienced stress, depression, anxiety and more.

  • Rm Photo

    How I coped with anxiety

    "I felt really unwell – heart rate rising, breathing out of control, nausea, and an overwhelming desire to get out of the car."

    Read more
  • Catherine Hart

    Recovering from post-natal depression

    " I suffered post-natal depression after both births, and this was particularly severe after my son’s birth, which led to an admission to hospital."

    Read more
  • Paul

    How I coped with alcohol dependence

    "In my late 20s I crashed a car and was banned from driving. My occasional forgetfulness had become regular blackouts during which I lost many hours at a time. At times I suspected what everyone else now realised: I was an alcoholic."

    Read more
  • Jonathan Photo 2

    How I coped with stress

    "I collapsed in the office mid-deal, suffering from exhaustion."

    Read more

Sign up to receive our newsletter.