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  • Jayne Green (B.Ed;M.Ed)

Patterns of Thinking and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection

Patterns of thinking and anxiety; anxiety; depression; trauma

Introduction: Anxiety can often be influenced by patterns of thinking that contribute to heightened worry, fear, and stress. By exploring the relationship between our thoughts and anxiety, we can gain valuable insights and develop strategies to better manage and alleviate its impact. In this blog post, we will delve into the connection between patterns of thinking and anxiety, and how understanding this relationship can empower individuals to cultivate more positive and adaptive thought patterns.

  • Catastrophizing and Overgeneralization: Catastrophizing involves magnifying the negative outcomes of a situation, while overgeneralization involves drawing broad negative conclusions based on limited experiences. Both patterns of thinking can contribute to anxiety by amplifying fears and creating a distorted perception of reality. Identifying and challenging these thought patterns can help break the cycle of anxiety.

  • Mind Reading and Personalization: Mind reading involves assuming negative thoughts or judgments from others without sufficient evidence, while personalization involves taking responsibility for events that are beyond our control. These cognitive distortions can intensify anxiety by fostering self-doubt and a sense of being constantly judged or at fault. Practicing cognitive reframing techniques can help challenge these patterns and promote more balanced thinking.

  • "What If" Thinking and Future-oriented Anxiety: "What if" thinking involves dwelling on hypothetical negative scenarios, often centered around the future. This type of thinking can perpetuate anxiety by creating a constant state of worry and anticipation. Developing mindfulness practices and grounding techniques can help individuals stay present and reduce future-oriented anxiety.

  • Negative Self-Talk and Self-Criticism: Negative self-talk refers to the internal dialogue characterized by self-criticism, self-doubt, and harsh judgments. This pattern of thinking can erode self-esteem, increase anxiety, and perpetuate a negative cycle. Practicing self-compassion and cultivating a positive self-image can counteract negative self-talk and promote emotional well-being.

  • Filtering and Selective Attention: Filtering involves selectively focusing on negative aspects while disregarding positive aspects of a situation. This cognitive bias can fuel anxiety by distorting our perception and reinforcing negative thinking patterns. Engaging in gratitude practices and reframing exercises can help broaden our perspective and counteract the tendency to filter out positive aspects.

  • Unrealistic Expectations and Perfectionism: Setting excessively high standards and pursuing perfection can create immense pressure and anxiety. Unrealistic expectations can lead to constant self-criticism and a fear of failure. Embracing a growth mindset, setting realistic goals, and practicing self-acceptance can help alleviate anxiety associated with perfectionism.


Patterns of thinking play a significant role in the experience of anxiety. By recognizing and challenging negative and distorted thinking patterns, individuals can gain control over their anxious thoughts and reduce the impact of anxiety on their lives.

Engaging in cognitive restructuring, mindfulness practices, and self-compassion can foster a more positive and adaptive mindset. Remember, changing thought patterns takes time and effort, but with practice and persistence, it is possible to break free from the grip of anxiety and cultivate a more balanced and resilient mindset.

Author: Jayne Green (B.Ed; M.Ed)

Master Degree Counsellor

Certified Psychoeducation Therapist


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