September 3, 2020

Do you make these 3 thinking errors?

How often are you aware of the stories your mind tells you? Because it’s a great storyteller. But it's not always telling you things that are useful, especially when it’s freaking out.  

Cognitive biases, or thinking errors, are the brain’s way ofquickly making sense of a situation. Sometimes that’s good, like when you are running away from a big snake (I don’t like snakes).

You need your brain to make thinking shortcuts to get you out of there. You need it to say ‘Run! Or you’re doomed!’. But it’s not so good when you have to pitch an idea or speak in public. Or any other of the other, normal everyday things we do.

Here are 3 cognitive errors I hear about most:

Disqualifying the Positive
Disqualifying the positive is when you continually discount and dismiss the positive
experiences you encounter, by deciding they are unimportant or 'don't count'.

Example: Your colleague says she loved the idea you shared in a meeting, but you think ‘she’s just saying that to be nice to me, she doesn’t really mean it.’

If you are British, you will suffer acutely from this.

This is when you predict the worst will happen, even though it’s pretty unlikely. It’s a way of your mind trying to protect you from disaster but makes everyday worries become overwhelming.

Example: You are expecting an invoice to be paid, but it's a few days late. In the meantime you have mentally spiralled into a scenario where you can’t pay your bills, your marriage falls apart and you end up living in your parents’ box room.

All Or Nothing Thinking
This is when you think in extremes and reduce your outcomes to either total success or failure. This gets in the way of you seeing that two things can be true at once and that there are grey areas.

Example: You go for a pitch and tell yourself ‘either I get this or I am total failure and must immediately give up my career and hide under a stone.’

So, were any of these familiar to you? Thought so.

Becoming aware of what your brain is up to the first step to changing what you do. Thoughts influence feelings which influence your actions. If you don’t know your thoughts, you're driving with your eyes closed. Which is not good, obvs.

See if you can notice what your mind is up to this week. Drive with your eyes open!

Tell me how if you notice any of these errors in the comments below.