Part I of this post looked at six traits of unbalanced thinking: absolutism, labelling, catastrophising, fortune telling, mind reading and closed-mindedness. Here are another six ways in which that tricky grey matter between our ears can distort our perception of reality:
This is the habit of making sweeping statements that lump things, people or situations into one, usually negative, scenario. An example of this is a person believing they are terrible at job interviews. This creates a disincentive to be positive and to prepare well for job interviews, which in turn increases the probability of failure and fuels further negative thinking.
Over-association is the mental habit of assigning too much importance to one’s self. With over-association, a person feels the world revolves around them in a very literal sense. Whatever happens is because of them. People may regard themselves as ‘jinxed’ and that disaster follows them wherever they go. Other traits such as ignoring positives and closed-mindedness are often associated with this habit.
This is the process of misidentifying feelings as facts. A person who is feeling really down may conclude they are clinically depressed rather than consider whether they have had enough sleep, food, fresh air or exercise. This example also contains elements of over-generalisation and catastrophising; negative thinking traits often compound each other.
This is the unconscious belief that certain things should be done in certain ways. Very often, those around us aren’t aware of the rules that we secretly believe in, making it very easy form them to unwittingly break them. When high levels of expectation meet low levels of tolerance (see below) the outcome is often a “my way or the highway” bust-up.
We are all familiar with the phrase “to not suffer fools gladly” and this is often viewed as a positive trait. In reality it can mask a number of unhelpful thinking traits. While the phrase suggests a lack of tolerance for stupidity, in practice it is more often intolerance of anyone with a differing view. Intolerance gives a short-term worldview. It is easier to reject anything or anyone who frustrates us rather than knuckle down to the harder task of building long-term positive relationships.
12. Ignoring positives
This is the habit of disregarding positive events in the past because they conflict with a self-created gloomy vision of the future. We all have positive events in our lives, but when we lack a fundamentally positive worldview we tend to downplay them and focus on the negatives instead.
Once we understand the specific ways in which our minds can work against us, it becomes much easier to identify where we are victims of unbalanced thinking and that we need to visit the wellbeing garage for a few small repairs!
Image: Reasons to clean the floor by Stephalicious on Flickr. Cropped to 16:9.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.