There are 10 unhelpful thinking styles that Centre for Clinical Interventions (www.cci.health.wa.gov.au) describes that we experience when we are feeling an unhelpful emotion, such as depression or anxiety. In this post, we will look at the first 3 unhelpful thinking styles. As you read this post and the preceding two posts about the thinking styles, you will find that some of the styles overlap and that you may have experienced a style one time or another.
1. Mental Filter.
This thinking style can also be considered “tunnel vision”. Mental filter occurs when you focus on a specific word or phrase and ignore the rest of what was mentioned. For example, let’s say your boss examines and critiques a project that you completed. Your boss gives high praises and shows authentic interest in your work, but when he/she mentions that the project could use more research information or should have been turned in a week ago , you ignore all the positives and focus on the negatives. If you continue to focus on the negative aspects of the critique, your mood may and often does, decrease. Take the tunnel vision off and view the communication with all aspects – positives and negatives before determining how to react.
2. Jumping to Conclusions.
Do you find yourself often coming up with conclusions or solutions before receiving all the information? There are two ways that we jump to conclusions: mind reading and predictive thinking. Mind reading is when you make assumptions that are based on you. For example, if a friend yawns while having a discussion with you, you may interpret that what you are saying is “boring”. We tend to jump to this conclusion when we are feeling and thinking of ourselves. Any other time, you may interpret the yawn as the individual needing oxygen to the brain (in actuality). When you use predictive thinking, you are predicting what will happen. One of the biggest predictive thinking statements that I hear from my clients is “I already know what they will say if I was to call them. They will just yell and cuss at me.” That may be a valid possibility, but you are already setting yourself up for failure before even attempting the phone call. Check in with your emotions before jumping to conclusions – it will help you from the fall.
Personalization is largest from ages 3-5, when the world revolves around the child. However, even as adults we can slip into personalization at times. For example, your child may have received a C in one of his/her classes at school. You may think “It is my fault that he/she did not study more”, “I should have assisted my child better” or “I’m a failure as a parent”. Having these thoughts can be detrimental, because you are allowing yourself to take total responsibility for external events. What were you going to do… take the test for your child? Taking full 100% responsibility for someone else action is a huge burden and unproductive. Take a load off and allow yourself to solely accept ownership of what you have in control will lessen the guilt and disappointment.
Read more with Part II soon!