Taking out the Mental Trash – part 2

Posted by on February 13, 2010 in Skills Building | 0 comments

In my last blog entry, I invited you on a journey of taking out the “mental trash” – messages that clog our minds, burden our hearts, quash our spirits, and interfere with our ability to lead an authentic life. I suggested you start keeping  a log of these distressing thoughts. This week I’m introducing you to a system for identifying errors (i.e., distorted ways of thinking) in those thoughts.

Below are some of the most common categories of thinking errors . Don’t be alarmed when you realize “I do all of these!” We all do. As  you read through the list, think of your own examples – and see which are your most frequent offenders.

All or nothing thinking: You think of things in terms of black or white terms.

It’s my way or the highway.

You’re a success or a failure.

Blaming: You attribute your feelings and/or situation to someone or something else.

It’s your fault I’m angry.

I can’t have a good time if you aren’t with me.

They didn’t give me a choice.

Catastrophizing or minimizing: You grossly overestimate or underestimate the impact of a situation.

I really thought that he was the one; I guess I’ll die an old maid.

I didn’t hurt anyone on my way home; I told you I can hold my liquor.

Emotional reasoning: You allow your feelings to determine your thoughts.

I pushed her buttons because I felt like arguing.

I’m too (emotionally) tired to care anymore.

If I’m having  a bad day, I’ll see to it that everyone’s having a bad day.

Filtering: You focus on certain aspects, to the exclusion of others.

A performance review praises your leadership skills and is critical of your documentation. You disregard the commendations and dwell on the criticism.

Jumping to conclusions: You assume the worst.

A friend does not call you on your birthday. You conclude she must be mad at you.

Labeling: You call yourself and/or others such things as “lazy,” “ignorant,” or “stupid.”

I can’t believe I said that; how could I be so stupid?!

He is a jerk.

Overgeneralization: Because something seems negative, you assume things will always go wrong.

A friend betrays your trust and you conclude that no one can be trusted.

Personalization: You take personally something that may have little or nothing to do with you.

You hear co-workers snickering and assume they are laughing at you.

Should: You declare that what is should not be.

That should not have happened.

You should have known what I meant.

I should be able to do this.

Familiarize yourself with the thinking error types and begin training yourself to realize when you are engaging in distorted ways of thinking. In the next post, I’ll walk you through a process of changing your thoughts.

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