Counterfactual Thinking

There are two types of counterfactual thinking: upward and downward counterfactual thinking.

  • Upward counterfactual thinking: it happens whenever we look back at a scenario and ask the "what if" questions in terms of how our life could have turned out better.
  • Downward counterfactual thinking: this is naturally the opposite of upward counterfactual thinking and it happens when we think about how things could have been worse.
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  • Upward counterfactual thinking is linked with depression.
  • Downward counterfactual thinkers use their negative feelings as their motivation to become productive and better their current situations.
  • Downward counterfactual thinking can improve romantic relationships, although it is commonly associated with women.

Even though counterfactual thinking can be used to motivate us to make better choices we should always keep in mind to focus on the present and the future instead of the past.

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