What are you thinking about right now? Is your thinking helping or hindering you? How is your thinking impacting your performance at work?
You spend a lot of your time thinking but you probably don’t spend much time considering how the way you think influences your work and life. How you think impacts how you feel and behave, so if you are thinking in an unhelpful way this will impact your feelings and behaviour negatively. Our thoughts are not rigid and fixed, you can choose to let a thought go or to think differently and as a result your experience of the world will change too.
Here are some unhelpful ways of thinking together with some ideas as to how to change each way of thinking.
All or Nothing Thinking is extreme thinking and it can lead to extreme emotions and behaviours e.g. you may think I will either be promoted or be dismissed. Focus on somewhere between the two extremes, avoid either/or type statements and consider alternative ways of interpreting the situation.
Catastrophising is taking a relatively minor negative event and imagining all sorts of disasters resulting from it e.g. you may think that if one candidate cancels an interview then you will be having a disciplinary for poor performance. Recognise your thoughts as just thoughts not reality, consider less terrifying explanations, weigh up the evidence and take action to cope with the situation until you know the outcome.
Disqualifying the Positive is when you transform a positive event into a neutral or negative event in your mind e.g. although the client is very happy with the person you have recruited you think you were just lucky. Be aware of your response to positive information, accept positive events as is and positive feedback from others.
Emotional Reasoning is when you rely too heavily on your feelings as fact and a guide to reality e.g. you think everyone has too much to do because you are feeling overwhelmed with work. Take notice of your thoughts, consider how you would view things if you were calmer, look for contradictory information and allow your feelings to subside before taking action.
Fortune Telling is when you try to predict future events usually in a negative way e.g. you may think that all your team are going to leave the company. Find out the facts, test out your predictions and understand that you cannot predict the future.
Making Demands is when you place demands on yourself and others such as ‘I must’ or ‘they should’ e.g. you think you must work long hours to achieve your target. Pay attention to the words you use, adopt a more flexible approach and allow for things to be different to expectations.
Mental Filtering is when you acknowledge only information that fits with a belief you hold e.g. you think you are not good at your job so will never get a promotion. Collect evidence that contradicts your thoughts, pay attention to all the information available and take notice of and look to change the filters you are using.
Mind Reading is when you think you know what other people are thinking e.g. you think your boss is not happy with you. Generate some alternative reasons for what is happening, consider that you may be incorrect and communicate with the other people to understand their actual viewpoint.
Over-generalising is when you draw global conclusions such as ‘always’ or ‘never’ from an event e.g. you did not win a piece of business so you think you are never going to win any further business. Try to get things into perspective, suspend judgement and be specific, steering clear of global conclusions.
Personalising is when you interpret events as being related to you personally, overlooking other factors e.g. you think it is your fault that your manager has asked everyone to work late. To change this way of thinking look for explanations of events that are nothing to do with you, consider why other people may be responding in a particular way and don’t jump to conclusions.
Hopefully you will now be more aware of your thinking patterns and have ideas for what you can do if you find yourself thinking in an unhelpful way.