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You probably don't spend much time considering how you think about different situations in your business or personal life. However, how you think effects how you feel, so if you are feeling bad, you have probably been thinking in an unhelpful way. Also, the way you think can cause you to make inaccurate assessments of your experiences, to get the wrong end of the stick, to jump to conclusions, to think the worst, to distort the facts and it can get in the way of your decision making and the achievement of your business and personal goals.
Therefore, it is worth taking time to step back and understand the way you are thinking and, where your thinking is unhelpful, to look at changing the way you think.
Unhelpful ways of thinking and how to change them
There are many unhelpful ways of thinking and we have summarised some of them below, together with some ideas as to how to change each way of thinking.
Catastrophising is taking a relatively minor negative event and imagining all sorts of disasters resulting from it. This can result in misinterpretations of relatively minor situations. To change this way of thinking put your thoughts into perspective, recognise your thoughts as just thoughts not reality, consider less terrifying explanations, weigh up the evidence and consider what you can do to cope with the situation until you know the outcome.
All or Nothing Thinking is extreme thinking and it can lead to extreme emotions and behaviours. This can stop you achieving your goals because you have no margin for error in your thinking. To change this way of thinking focus on somewhere between the two extremes that you are thinking, avoid either/or type statements and consider alternative ways of interpreting the situation.
Fortune Telling is when you try to predict future events usually in a negative way. This can stop you from taking action and can become a self fulfilling prophecy. To change this way of thinking test out your predictions, be prepared to take measurable risks and understand that you cannot predict the future.
Mind Reading is when you think you know what other people are thinking. This can result in incorrect assumptions being made. To change this way of thinking generate some alternative reasons for what is happening, consider that your mind reading may be incorrect and communicate with the other people to understand their points of view.
Emotional Reasoning is when you rely too heavily on your feelings as fact and as a guide to reality. This can result in you totally misunderstanding the situation. To change this way of thinking take notice of your thoughts, ask yourself how you would view things if you were calmer, look for contradictory information and allow your feelings to subside before taking action.
Over-generalising is when you draw global conclusions such as 'always' or 'never' from an event. This can result in you assuming that because something has happened once it will always happen. To change this way of thinking try to get things into perspective, suspend judgement and be specific, steering clear of global conclusions.
Making Demands is when you place demands on yourself and others such as 'I must' or 'they should'. This can result in a very rigid and inflexible view of what is happening. To change this way of thinking pay attention to the words you use, adopt a more flexible approach and allow for things to be different to expectations.
Mental Filtering is when you acknowledge only information that fits with a belief you hold. This can result in a very distorted view of the actual information. To change this way of thinking collect evidence that contradicts your thoughts, pay attention to all the information available and take notice of and look to change the filters you are using.
Disqualifying the Positive is when you transform a positive event into a neutral or negative event in your mind. This can result in a pattern of negative thinking and unhappiness. To change this way of thinking be aware of your response to positive information, accept positive events as they are and accept positive feedback from others.
Personalising is when you interpret events as being related to you personally, overlooking other factors. This can result in you feeling you are responsible for everything that happens to others and yourself. To change this way of thinking look for explanations of events that are nothing to do with you, consider why other people may be responding in a particular way and don't jump to conclusions.
Becoming more aware of your thinking patterns and changing those that are unhelpful to you will enable you to handle different situations and events in your business and personal life more effectively and also will enable you to feel better as a result.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: March 2009
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
Please call Liz on 01780 765270 or email Liz@makinithappen.co.uk
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