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5 Ways to Eliminate "Stinking Thinking"

If you have ever attended a 12-Step meeting, you have likely heard the phrase “stinking thinking.” You may have been puzzled as to what that phrase has to do with you or what it means exactly. The basic meaning is that it is easy to get caught up in negative thought processes and jump to conclusions. For instance, take a moment and think about the last time you jumped to conclusions without knowing all the facts. You probably made yourself upset, thinking of ways you or others were “wrong.” This is called stinking thinking. Stinking thinking can cause a negative stream of thoughts and sabotage your progress in recovery.

This blog post will explore the dangers of stinking thinking and how your thinking patterns can affect recovery. What’s more, the post will provide helpful tips for eliminating stinking thinking and how The Guest House can assist you in changing your negative thought processes.

What Is Stinking Thinking?

Every person has cognitive distortions to some degree; they are a part of the human experience. Some people have intense distortions that can disrupt their daily functions and prevent happiness. Cognitive distortions are negative thoughts and/or biases that affect how you think, feel, and behave.

There are many ways to process negative thoughts and eliminate stinking thinking. The first step to managing stinking thinking is to be able to recognize cognitive distortions as they surface. Some of those distortions are as follows:

  • All-or-nothing thinking: This is the tendency to think in absolutes, also sometimes called black-or-white thinking.
  • Overgeneralization: This means seeing a pattern in just one event. A person may use words like “always” or “never.”
  • Discounting the positive: This is when a person only focuses on the negative or feels like their accomplishments do not count.
  • Jumping to conclusions: A person may engage in mind-reading or make assumptions before they know all the facts.
  • Magnification or catastrophizing: This is when someone exaggerates the importance or the outcome of a situation.

These are just a few cognitive distortions to get you started in recognizing stinking thinking errors. If you recognize some of these distortions in yourself, you are not alone in this. Many people struggle with identifying cognitive distortions and decreasing negative thoughts in their lives. Also, there is a possibility that you had no idea that this was affecting your thinking patterns in recovery.

How Do My Thinking Patterns Affect Recovery?

If you find it difficult to manage your stinking thinking, you may want to discuss it with a professional therapist, like those at The Guest House. You are not meant to do this alone. A little help may be all you need. Many facets of recovery need to be addressed, and it can be overwhelming. Do not be discouraged if you recognize that you struggle with stinking thinking.

According to Steven M. Melemis, in an article for the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, “The negative thinking that underlies addiction is usually all-or-nothing thinking, disqualifying the positives, catastrophizing, and negatively self-labeling. These thoughts can lead to anxiety, resentments, stress, and depression, all of which can lead to relapse.”

Early on in recovery, you may have recognized people, places, and things that affected your recovery. Similarly, your thinking patterns have a lot to do with how you feel about yourself, situations, and others. You will want to do whatever it takes to eliminate any possible sign of relapse. This can include something that may seem insignificant, like recognizing your stinking thinking.

How Can I Eliminate Stinking Thinking?

There are many ways you can eliminate negative thought processes. However, this article will explore five easy ways to eliminate or decrease stinking thinking:

1.) Surround yourself with positivity: You were not born with stinking thinking. Somewhere in your life, you were exposed to a negative thought process. It does not have to continue to be that way. There is hope and you have the power to change your thoughts by surrounding yourself with positivity.

2.) Create a thought journal: Sometimes it is easy to dismiss stinking thinking because you may not even realize you are doing it. Keeping a thought journal can show you how stinking thinking creeps into your life. By journaling regularly, you will be able to recognize how your thoughts determine your emotions.

3.) Make the effort to do the work: It is easy to disregard stinking thinking and make excuses. With anything in your life, you have to make an effort in order to see changes. As mentioned previously, therapy can assist in ironing out those smooth edges. Also, attending a 12-Step meeting with other people in your situation will help create connections and grow.

4.) Recognize those thought patterns: You have the power to stop stinking thinking from creating chaos in your life. The tools are in front of you. Now you can recognize stinking thinking and apply healthy coping skills.

5.) Recognize how you feel about yourself: Practicing self-awareness regarding how you feel about yourself will affect how you talk to yourself. In other words, you will speak to yourself the way you feel about yourself. Take a self-inventory to see how you are feeling.

How Can The Guest House Help With Stinking Thinking?

Understanding that you are not alone can be the first step in healing. Recognizing cognitive distortions is important for eliminating stinking thinking. At The Guest House, we are familiar with how the brain can dictate your thoughts and feelings. We have specialized therapists waiting for you to call who can help you on your journey.

It is hard to recognize the parts of yourself you tend to hide. Understanding that you are not alone in this battle and have support can be hard to wrap your mind around. You may have thought you were different or made excuses for not addressing the things you need to change. Stinking thinking is one of those things that is hard to confront. After all, you may not know how to be different. This is not your fault. At The Guest House, we understand how common this is, and we know the vulnerability that comes with seeking help. If you or someone you know is struggling with stinking thinking, please give us a call at (855) 483-7800 today.