In the moment,the quality of our thinking can make a massive difference to how we experience ourselves and the world around us. As human beings we have what the psychologists call a ‘confirmation bias’. What that means is that in our evolution as a species, it has protected us more to think more negatively than positively. When we lived in tribes on the plains of Africa, a strange rustle in the bushes could mean a nasty predator ready to kill us! Enjoying the lovely sound or wondering what kind of furry creature it might be could mean that you could be attacked and killed! Thinking short cuts have kept us alive in the past and can be very useful nowadays but equally can be very destructive.
Most clients that I work with talk to themselves in a way they would let nobody else do; effectively criticising and bullying themselves which creates a spiral of negative thoughts and feelings which can lead to anxiety, depression, eating problems and many other issues.
In the book ‘The Resilience Factor’ by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte, the common thinking traps are explained. The main ones are:
- overgeneralising – reaching conclusions based on little evidence – ‘I’ve not been invited out by my friend, she doesn’t like me.’
- always and never thinking – ‘ Why does this always happen to me?’
- catastrophising and tunnel vision – ‘ ‘If I don’t get that job, my life is over’
Some really useful tips in the moment to get things in perspective are:
That’s not completely true because….’ I know she likes me, perhaps she wants to spend some time with some of her other friends’
Another way of looking at this is…..’sometimes this does happen to me and there are lots of times when it doesn’t’
The most likely outcome is.….if I don’t get that job I’ll be gutted but there will be others…and I can…apply for those and keep trying to get the kind of job I want.
These 3 self talk starters can make a powerful difference to the quality of your internal dialogue. Try them out and practice getting into better habits than the ones you’ve got.