It’s easy to think of your brain as a computer, but it’s more like an artist than a machine. It can take six hours for the emotional part of our brains to process what we see and hear, which is why we often get upset when something happens out of nowhere. If you want to learn how to stop sabotaging your own thinking ability with these ten common thought errors, then read on!
Mental filtering is a thinking error that involves only seeing the negative aspects of a situation. This can happen when you focus on one negative aspect of a situation, and ignore all other aspects. For example, if your friend calls you up and asks if they can borrow $20 because they’re late paying their rent again this month (this is not hypothetical), you might think “I hate lending money because I’m never getting it back” or “I bet she’s going to spend it all on weed”. The problem with mental filtering is that it can cause us to overlook important information in favor of focusing solely on what we think will make us feel bad about ourselves or others. By doing so, we aren’t able to fully consider all possible solutions–or even realize there may be no solution at all!
Jumping to conclusions is a type of mental filter that can lead to negative thoughts and actions. It’s a cognitive distortion, which means it’s a way of thinking that makes you believe something is true without having all the evidence. You jump to conclusions when you assume something without having all the facts or when you make an assumption based on partial information and then act on it without getting more clarification, because doing so would challenge your belief about what happened. For example: You think someone doesn’t like you when they don’t say hello at work (they probably just didn’t see you). You believe your partner cheated because she was gone for too long at lunch (she might have been at the gym).
Personalization is a type of bias in which you believe that other people’s actions are always based on you. This can lead to feeling angry, frustrated, or hurt when something happens that isn’t how you want it. Personalization errors include: You think someone is talking about you when they aren’t (hearing your own name in a conversation). You assume that someone is angry at you when they’re actually just having an off day (assuming others have no right to be upset). You take things personally when they weren’t meant as such (thinking someone doesn’t like something about your appearance).
Black and white thinking is when you see things as either “good” or “bad.” You don’t see any shades of gray, or the possibility that there might be another way to look at something. For example: If your friend says something negative about your work, you think they’re an idiot and you never want to talk to them again. If someone disagrees with you about politics, then that person must be wrong and dumb for thinking differently than you do (even though there are many intelligent people who vote differently). This kind of thinking can lead to bad decisions because it prevents us from being open-minded about other people’s opinions or points of view–and sometimes those other perspectives might actually be better than ours! In order for us humans to learn more about ourselves and what makes us tick, we need others’ input into our lives; otherwise we’ll never grow as human beings!
Catastrophizing is the process of making negative interpretations about the future or the present. It’s a mental filter that focuses on the negative aspects of a situation and ignores the positive ones. For example, if you fail an exam, you might catastrophize by thinking: “I’m never going to get into college.” This can lead to depression because it creates an illusion of hopelessness in regards to your goal (getting into college). Luckily there are ways to combat this thinking error!
Overgeneralizing is when you take a single negative event, and believe it will always be true. For example, if you have a bad day at work and get yelled at by your boss, you might think to yourself: “I’m just not cut out for this job.” Or if someone rejects your romantic advances, it may seem like they’re rejecting all of who you are as a person. Overgeneralization can lead us down the road of self-doubt and negative thinking–and it’s something that many people do unintentionally without even realizing it! In order to avoid overgeneralizing in your life (and allow yourself room for growth), try asking yourself these questions when faced with an event: Is this situation really unique? Am I making assumptions about what other people think about me based on one incident or interaction?
Labeling is a thinking error where you attach a label to someone or something. The label is often negative, and it can be applied to yourself or others. Labels are often used in situations where there isn’t enough information available for us to understand what happened or why things occurred the way they did: “He’s lazy,” “She’s annoying,” “That car was stupid.” The problem with labeling is that it causes us to jump to conclusions about people and situations without really understanding what’s going on behind the scenes–and this can have serious consequences for your health, relationships, and career (especially if those labels are attached onto yourself). For example: If I call myself “lazy” because I don’t want to do something today but tomorrow I’ll feel motivated; then what happens when tomorrow comes around? Am I still lazy?
Shoulding and musting are cognitive distortions that cause you to feel guilty, anxious or angry about something that you cannot control. For example: “I should have done better in school” or “I must do well on this exam.” These types of thoughts are not helpful because they make you feel like your life is out of control or at risk of failing. This can lead to stress and anxiety, which can then lead to depression if left untreated.
Emotional reasoning is when you believe something is true because you feel it is true, not because there are any facts or evidence to support it. For example: “I feel like my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore so he must be cheating on me.”
These thinking errors can be very destructive to your mental health, but they are also very common. Most people make these mistakes without even realizing it! The good news is that there are ways you can work on overcoming these cognitive distortions. The first step is identifying them in yourself and then working on changing the way you think about things in order to avoid them. As we said earlier: don’t try too hard or get frustrated if it takes time – just keep practicing until your brain gets used to these new patterns!