What Gets Us into Trouble

Is it our actions, our thoughts, or our emotions that get us into trouble? Probably some of each. Where does it start though? What comes first? The truth is that most of the time it is our thoughts that initiate both actions and emotions or feelings. Sometimes, we even have a name for it: "stinkin' thinkin'." Here are some of the ways we stink up the place (our minds) with how we are thinking.

  1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking: We see things in black-or-white categories. If a situation is anything less than perfect, we see it as a total failure.
  2. Over generalization: We see a single event as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using the words "always" or "never" when we think about it. This is also called tunnel vision.
  3. Mental Filter: We pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively. One word of criticism erases all the praise we've received.
  4. Discounting the Positive: We reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count." If we do a good job, we tell ourselves anyone could have done as well.
  5. Jumping to Conclusions: We interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support our conclusions. Two common variations are mind-reading (we arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to us) and fortunetelling (we assume and predict that things will turn out badly).
  6. Magnification: We exaggerate the importance of our problems and shortcomings, or we minimize our desirable qualities.
  7. Emotional Reasoning: We assume that our negative emotions reflect the way things really are: "I feel really guilty so I must be a rotten person."
  8. "Should" Statements: We tell ourselves that things should be the way we hoped or expected them to be. Many people try to motivate themselves with shoulds, oughts, and shouldn'ts, as if they had to be punished before they could be expected to do anything.
  9. Labeling: This is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake," we attach a negative, shameful label by saying and thinking, "I am a mistake." or, "I am a loser."
  10. Personalization and Blame: We hold ourselves personally accountable for events that aren't entirely or even minimally under our control.

Rick B

Dr. Candace McDaniel
8021 East R.L. Thornton Fwy, Suite A
Dallas, Texas 75228

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