We’re going to finish our exploration into thinking errors in this module by looking at the final five types:
- Disqualifying the positive.
- Emotive Language
- oughts & musts
Thinking Error 9. Disqualifying the positive.
Very similar to filtering which takes out selected elements to fit in with your existing beliefs. With disqualifying the positives, you disregard anything positive or good about you or anything positive that happens.
For example, when doing something well and someone compliments you, you might say –
“That doesn’t count or “I did manage to get that done, but anyone could have done that”,
or “I enjoyed going out, but I felt low again afterward”.
When asking someone ‘how they are’ and their response is
‘same mess. Different day’
they are using this type of irrational thinking – completely ignoring anything good about their day.
If you do a good job you might tell yourself it wasn’t good enough, or that anyone could have done it.
It’s those constant and belittling comments that ultimately will make you feel less about yourselves. They feel the whole world is bad, everyone is horrible, life sucks…all the time.
Discounting the positive takes the fun out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded. And, unfortunately, it makes you not the best company to have around.
Thinking Error 10. Emotive Language
It’s really worth highlighting the impact of the emotive language you might use – and how it could negatively impact the way you feel.
You may find this thinking error crosses over with some of the others we’ve discussed.
Words can be really powerful and some words can have an emotional resonance that clouds our judgment or over exaggerates an experience.
Let me give you an example.
If I say, ‘That girl despises everything about me’ rather than ‘we don’t always see eye to eye’
I not only make myself feel worse, I feel worse every time I think of her, and dread meeting up, and when we do meet up I feel irritable.
As another example after giving a business presentation or doing an interview – if I say to myself,
‘that situation was totally humiliating’ as opposed to ‘that was uncomfortable for a while’
I’ll probably make every effort to avoid a similar situation in the future, rather than go for it and see if the discomfort lasted for a shorter time.
In both examples, the language has raised the stakes.
It’s normally this type of emotive language that stops people from doing things that they have more than adequate resources to do.
“It would be the worst thing in the world if I got up in front of them and spoke”
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I said something inappropriate”
“I feel absolutely terrible about flying”
To stop yourself from becoming a victim of this kind of talk, using milder language is key. We discussed this as a tactic earlier, so you should now have started to become familiar with this idea.
So be aware and mindful about using strong emotive language when you describe events either that have happened, or you might have to do in the future.
The more emotive your language, the stronger the link becomes with the negative association.
Try and use the most objective tone and language that you can when describing these events.
Don’t be afraid to change your language in mid-sentence, whether it’s self-talk or in conversation… so
“I hate those….actually, I don’t hate them but I’m a little uncomfortable with them…
Thinking Error 11. Personalisation
“I know it’s all my fault”
Personalisation occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for something that isn’t entirely under your control.
When a parent receives a note that their child is having difficulties at school, they tell themselves, “This shows what a bad parent I am”.
There’s an instant self-diagnosis and that’s the end of it.
The problem with this kind of thinking is that instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem, so that they could be helpful to their child, they stick with the ‘it’s my fault’ response.
It’s the same with perfectionism – the feeling that something is only good enough if it’s perfect. And because it’s never perfect, you are never satisfied and can never take pride in anything.
Thinking Error 12. Blaming
“It’s all your fault”
An opposite of personalisation, when everything is your fault, now it’s anything else but you –
it’s someone else’s fault,
it’s my situation,
it’s the place I live and so on.
Again, by thinking in this way, you leave yourself with nowhere to go to solve the issue – if it’s someone else – or your situation – you can’t do anything about that so you feel helpless.
By being someone who blames external sources for your position, you automatically turn off your problem-solving abilities. When the situation is somebody else’s fault, there’s little reason to do anything about it, let alone take a look at your own part in the situation.
So you neither take any responsibility but neither do you look for a way forward.
Not only that, but this way of thinking leads to a whole host of negative and destructive emotions such as resentment, bitterness, anger and, even hatred.
Blaming is also a defense mechanism, which people use when they don’t want to accept that they might be at fault in any way. It’s that fear of being seen as vulnerable or not as clever as you want to be seen.
People who think in this way have the irrational beliefs that “I must be perfect at all times or people will hate me (which is catastrophising, the thinking error we discussed earlier)
Or else, If I’m not perfect then I am useless and unworthy (which is very polarised thinking)
Thinking Error 13. Shoulds, oughts & musts
In this type of thinking you tell yourself that things ‘should be’ the way you hoped or expected them to be.
For example, your manager or coach makes a decision you don’t agree with and you say “she should have done it this way…or ‘he should have picked me’
Or, after playing a difficult piece on the piano, a gifted pianist told herself
“I shouldn’t have made so many mistakes”.
This made her feel so disgusted that she stopped practicing for several days.
“Musts”, “Oughts” and “have to’s” are similar offenders.
When you use these words, they lead to feelings of guilt or frustration.
Should statements that are directed against other people or the world in general also lead to anger and frustration:
“He shouldn’t be so argumentative”.
“They shouldn’t argue’
“They must realise what they’re doing”
You feel you know how you should be and how the world should be – but you are not perfect, and neither is the world.
“I should not upset people”.
“I ought to have achieved more than this.”
A consequence of this type of thinking is that you’re constantly disappointed and angry with yourself and everyone around you – they don’t live up to your expectations
This is a classic thinking error with performers and teams when they say
“I should win this match’, only to be totally disheartened when their opponent starts playing well.
So to summarise, this module we looked at five more types of thinking errors:
Disqualifying the positive.
Shoulds. oughts & musts
And we’ve now concluded our exploration at the most common types
you’ll have noticed the futility of thinking in this way, even though many people do so all the time – and it leads to low moods, low self-esteem, and low confidence.
Even though we’ve looked at alternative ways of thinking with each of these errors, In the next module, we take an overview of how you can best change your thinking habits so you can go through life in a more enjoyable way and even flourish by using more effective thinking
Your MYND activity
If you’ve listened to all the modules on thinking errors, you’ll probably be much more aware and may be surprised at the amount of irrational thinking you actually did.
Hopefully, you’ll have already started to challenge this way of thinking along with changing your thinking errors for more effective thinking.
Carry on with this change and notice the positive effect it has your mood and confidence over the next few months