We’re going to continue our look at the common thinking errors looking at three more types in this module – mindreading, labeling, and emotional reasoning
Thinking Error 6. Mindreading.
‘She thinks I’m an idiot’
We make assumptions about people and their intentions all the time. That’s human nature.
In many cases though, our imagination runs wild and we leap to conclusions about other people’s motives, attitudes, and what we assume they are thinking about us.
We do this, in most cases, without any evidence. We simply jump to conclusions – and mostly wrong ones.
Does this sound familiar? You feel you know what others are thinking of you, and it’s nearly always something negative.
As a result, you react to what you imagine they’re thinking without checking by asking – think back to the tennis player’s interpretation of what their parents and coach were discussing. A classic case of the mind-reading error.
The trouble with this kind of thinking is that we leave ourselves open to all sorts of paranoia and end up potentially feeling worse about ourselves and possibly frustrated for no reason at all!
We have no way of really knowing for certain what another person is actually thinking unless they choose to tell us.
To stop yourself thinking in this way…
If you’re going to make an assumption about what someone is thinking, assume it’s something nice about you rather than not. You’ll feel better about yourself and could well be right.
It’s worth reminding yourself that people outside your immediate circle of friends concern themselves mostly with thoughts about themselves and that in general they simply don’t care about others anywhere near as much as we might think!
Thinking Error 7. Labeling.
“I’m such an idiot…I’m a loser…I’m unlucky in life…”
These are all fairly typical statements I hear regularly.
Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying, for example
“I made a mistake” you attach a negative label to yourself – so it becomes: “I’m a loser.”’
You might also label yourself “a fool” or “a failure” or “a jerk”.
Labeling is quite irrational because you’re not the same as what you do, and certainly isolated incidents don’t define you as a person, even if they happen a few times.
I remember speaking with a tennis parent and her young daughter and the mum said
‘She never wins a tie-break’
When we explored that statement it transpired that the young girl had, in fact, won many tiebreaks in the past but recently was having a tough time – this certainly wasn’t helped with her mum reinforcing the ‘loser’ label
– You can just imagine the child’s thought process around the time – mum says I never win tiebreaks…I never win tiebreaks …not the best mantra to tell yourself in a challenging situation.
So when you use labeling – you talk to yourself in a harsh way, calling yourself names like “stupid”, “idiot”, “failure”, or whatever’s the worst insult for you.
You feel like these labels sum you up.
In fact, many sportspeople will label themselves as rubbish and call themselves names that they wouldn’t accept from anyone else.
The crazy thing is that people start living up to their own labels – so if you’re going to label yourself make it a good label!
To stop yourself thinking in this way, become more self-aware of the type of label you give yourself. Then challenge that label by looking at exceptions and stop using it in future.
What I mean is, judge the action you do, rather than yourself as a person. So an error’s an error no more no less. It doesn’t make you a loser or a failure as an individual.
Self-talk like – ‘I’m a great responder’… ’I’m mentally tough’ or ‘I can handle challenges’…will serve you much better. These are the labels to live up to.
Thinking Error 8. Emotional Reasoning
“He really winds me up and makes me feel so bad”
This is again a very common type of thinking error and one whereby you attach a meaning to your feelings that is simply not rational.
An example is saying:
“I feel so guilty, I must have done something really awful”….if someone misinterprets something you did with good intentions.
We’ve seen how your thoughts can lead to certain feelings, and the reverse is also true.
Feeling agitated or irate around someone can lead to more negative thoughts about that person and the circle repeats.
What then happens is that we use our feelings to attach truth to our thoughts or self-talk. The feelings give evidence that our thoughts have to be right.
When you think along these lines, you need to remind yourself that your emotions are not reliable guides when it comes to establishing facts.
Much of the time, our emotions will cloud our judgment and make it harder for us to see things clearly.
When feeling and thinking in this way, try to put your emotions to the side and look at the cold facts on the situation. Ask yourself ‘would someone else be acting in this way to this situation.’
Remind yourself that emotions are not the best indicator, especially when you’re looking for the truth.
So to summarise, this module we’ve continued to explore more thinking errors including mindreading, labeling, and emotional reasoning. Each of these, like the other thinking errors we’ve already seen, can lead to lowering your mood and generally feel pretty lousy – and mostly for no real reason.
In the next module
In the next module, we take a look at the final set of thinking errors
Your MYND activity
I’d like you to continue to analyze the way you think, and the things you say to yourself when certain events happen.
Now you also start to categories the specific type of thinking if it is irrational….and start to challenge that way of thinking in the way I’ve described.
The next time a similar event happens, change your normal response by countering that thinking error. .and see how better you feel for it.
See you tomorrow