Let’s Talk About Thought and Behaviour Patterns

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July is pattern month here at SCB. Check out the intro post here. You can view all the posts here.

Lets talk about noticing patterns.

There’s a bunch of different patterns you can notice within yourself, both good and bad.

Examples of negative thought patterns

  • All or nothing thinking This is where you’re very black and white in your thinking, either about yourself (either a success or a failure, no in between, this is often linked to perfectionism), or about an experience.
  • Disqualifying the positive. Here you only focus on the negatives. This can often manifest in caveating all praise or achivements, or saying that things ‘don’t count’.
  • Should statements. Using should or shouldn’t to motivate yourself can be a trap. Using guilt to motivate yourself can have a negative effect on your mental health.

Examples of negative behaviour patterns

Behavioural patterns are often linked to emotional ones, or emotional payoffs. We do these because we get something from them, either something we want directly from the activity, or avoiding something by doing the activity.

  • Procrastination, where you avoid doing a task, maybe because you don’t want to do the task, you’re having perfectionism issues which means failing by not doing is easier emotionally than trying and failing. It could also be a sign of executive dysfunction, which means some of these tips may not work for you, but recognising this in yourself can lead to you being able to work with this to find how to make things work for you, or to talk to a professional about.
  • Excessive TV/social media/etc, which can also be an avoidance mechanism. You can avoid thoughts, or people, or interactions when distracting yourself with something
  • Self-medication (food, alcohol, drugs). These can be coping mechanisms, a way of avoiding thoughts, or for comfort. This can be more of an addiction as opposed to a habit, but it is a pattern, and one that you may need to engage with and work on in an holistic way.

I personally have done, and still do quite a few of these, depending on the state of my mental health at the time. Do you recognise any of these in yourself?