In working with clients, I am keenly aware of the themes or ‘issues’ they are seeking help and guidance for. Most times, these issues are preventing them from doing and having more, such as negative thinking or lack of self-esteem. Their growing frustration and perceived inability to deal with their situation leads to a host of physical and emotional issues which affects them personally as well as their interpersonal relationships.
These “issues’ are actually errors in our thinking, or distortions. Without getting too clinical or in-depth, when we look at our personal development we all pass through various stages or phases throughout our lives; in each of these phases we are developing habits and patterns that help us to move through each phase and shape us to who we are. But these behaviors and habits are not always positive ones. We can develop errors in our thinking about how we see and perceive situations we are faced with.
These thinking errors include:
- all-or-nothing thinking – you see things as black or white (if not perfect, then see it as a total failure)
- overgeneralizing – seeing a single event as a never-ending pattern
- mental filter – picking out a single event and then dwelling on the negative aspect while not seeing any positives
- disqualifying any positives – rejecting any good while maintaining negative beliefs
- jumping to conclusions – making negative interpretations with no facts to base them on
- mind reading – concluding that you know what someone is thinking without checking to see if it’s correct
- fortune telling – predicting an outcome as a predetermined fact
- catastrophizing – expecting the absolute worst outcome as a fact
- magnifying or minimizing – either overly exaggerating or making things less small
- emotional reasoning – “I feel it so it must be true”
- “Should” – use as a motivator but leads to feeling punished and justified for not doing something
- labeling – attaching a negative label to yourself or others
- personalization – seeing negative events or characteristics as part of yourself or others when not your doing
- maladaptive thinking – focusing on a thought that you have no control over which can seem self-critical or distracting
Overcoming these thinking errors can often be difficult – and the longer these habits are festered it will take longer to let them go.
But there is good news – it is totally possible to reverse any thinking errors and develop healthy positive ones which will then lead you to feeling more positive, more confident and that will get you into action mode. First, it takes identifying which thinking error(s) you may have and in which situations you use them. Next, it takes challenging your thoughts – how do you know these to be true? Lastly, it takes validating your positive thoughts and behaviors so they become implanted.
Don’t let your thinking errors hold you back from having the career, the business, or the life you desire. Make the decision to stop and honor yourself by relearning new habits today!