One of the ways we are trapped in old ways of living is through errors in our thinking that we have not questioned, and have assumed are "normal" to our lives. Being made aware of these thinking errors can be very helpful to our growth and health. I was shown the following 10 errors when studying last year and thought that they were illuminating, and then more recently through a bit of evaluation realised a couple were at work in my life. I have since challenged them and have found the process to be extremely freeing! So I thought I would share them in this blog post. All images are taken from iqdoodle.com/cognitive-distortions. The question in the thought bubbles are an example on how we can counteract these thinking errors. I have added some comments after each picture.
If you find yourself struggling to find anything good about yourself, I would suggest mental filtering is at work! In recent times I have had conversations with a couple of people that thought that thinking about the positives was simply "positive thinking", when in fact it was bringing balance to their natural tendency to find negative things.
The difficulty in this thinking error is slowing down enough to consider other explanations. Especially when making big decisions, time is your friend.
Sometimes it can feel like personalization is the "mature" thing to do as you are taking responsibility. Taking responsibility is important, but taking ALL responsibility is an error. Understanding and owning your part, and recognising other factors at play is where you can make mature decisions.
This is one thinking error that I have had to battle with. In particular for me I saw a situation as a win or lose one, and struggled to think of ways I could turn it into a win-win. By thinking it was win or lose, I acted in a way to protect myself from losing rather than thinking about how we could all benefit from different kinds of action. I needed the help of other people to help me come up with new ways of thinking and acting.
If you tend to approach situations with the "worse case" as the most likely scenario, then you probably have a catastrophizing error. With this error, you can tend to act in a way that could possibly bring about that very outcome!
Again, another error that is all to familiar to me. I believe that I have the gift of insight, and I see patterns easily. Because of this, I can make big assumptions on what is going to happen. I had to learn how to see the possible pattern, but not base all my decisions on it; to give room for other outcomes.
I find this particularly dangerous when that trait is useful in one situation but not in another. We either stop doing a certain action because it didn't work in another situation, or we constantly use the same action even when it isn't useful in another.
For Christians, this is unfortunately all to prevalent. We place certain expectations on ourselves or others because it is the "right" thing to do. By "shoulding and musting" our way through life, we can easily find ourselves putting masks on to prevent others from seeing our "failures". Instead, we need to be kind to ourselves and see that it is a process of growth that is most important. We are allowed to make mistakes, and we can celebrate that we are taking small steps in the right direction instead of thinking that we should be better already.
An integration of both our emotions and thinking helps us to best process our course of action.
Often times I find that God seems to trust me more than I trust myself! Learning to see myself through God's eyes is definitely a struggle at times, but so liberating!
Which errors have you struggled with? Have you got ways to short-circuit that kind of thinking? Have you got people in your life that can help you recognise when your thinking is in error and bring you to truth? If not consider who you can bring in on your journey!