Our brain has the function of thinking, reasoning, deciding, feeling and so much more which is sometimes difficult to comprehend as well. While our brains are designed to make sense of everything we experience and draw connections between thoughts, ideas, actions or consequences. But sometimes how we think can be misleading or wrongly perceived or negatively reflected by us.
Our mind sometimes creates traps through the words, thoughts, and the stories we tell ourselves which leads to building distortions. A framework can bring an inner self transformation to foster a success mindset in our lives.
Thinking traps are those irrational thought patterns that conceal the reality and lead to making errors in decision making or judgments. It leads to a thought process where you tend to over exaggerate the threat and underestimate your ability to cope with it. The premise is that while we look at life in general from the lens of it being quite simple, but the brain that is functioning and making us think can turn a simple situation into a complex one.
These irrational thought patterns can make you easily jump to conclusions and often prevent you from seeing the bigger picture. This leads to trapping you in a vicious cycle of negative thoughts with the potential of altering your mood and the way you experience life.
These thinking traps are most often difficult to identify at first, as they are usually misconstrued with overthinking and they are generally normalised no matter how crippling they might be. These thinking traps are cognitive distortions which do not actually reflect the present situation of an individual.
The top six thinking traps that one needs to be conscious about:
#1 Fortune telling
Predicting that something bad will happen, without any evidence. We get stuck in this thinking trap when we over analyse on the possible outcomes of a situation and convince our self that one particular outcome is guaranteed. Example: I have to deliver this presentation and I know that I will mess it up.
#2 Over generalisation
Thinking that a negative situation is part of a constant pattern of bad things that always happen. People who over generalise often use words like always or never. Example: I thought I will get a good appraisal this year, but did not get it. This always happens to me! I always have to struggle and still do not get what I deserve!
#3 Mind reading
Jumping to conclusions about what others are thinking, without any evidence Example: My senior colleague did not say hello to me, maybe she is not happy with my work
Focusing only on the negative parts of a situation or a person and ignoring anything good or positive. Example: Since the time I joined this organisation, even though my work was appreciated but I have mostly been unhappy with my work.
Believing that the worst-case scenario is the inevitable outcome of a situation. Responding to a situation by greatly exaggerating to the severity of a situation. Example: My throat hurts what if I have got infected with COVID 19 and what if I die.
Wrongly attributing a negative label to either yourself or someone else. Example: I made a mistake in my presentation I am so careless.
The basis of bringing yourself out of these traps is by recognising if you are repeating a pattern of negative thoughts and then taking action on it so that you address the mind trap and overcome the vicious pattern of destructive thinking.
It is important to challenge a mind trap by realising what is happening, slowing your thoughts and considering if your thought process is rational or if there is any evidence of it being true. Often thinking more carefully, and giving yourself mental space can be a great tool to use against thinking traps.
Work yourself through by challenging the thinking traps, try to think of a more balanced thought to replace the old thinking traps.
Let go the through the following example:
Situation: My friend said she would call me tonight to figure out plans for the weekend, but she did not.
My thought: She is so inconsiderate. Or maybe she just does not like me anymore
My own trap: Labeling and mind-reading thinking Trap
Find the evidence: Well, last week we hung out a lot. She called me and never changed our plans.
Balanced thought: I know right now she is dealing with a stress at work and some relationship problems. Maybe she is just overwhelmed with everything. I will wait until we talk again before jumping to conclusions about our friendship
If left unchecked, thinking traps can escalate and leave us feeling trapped. If you are feeling down or like you have fallen into a pattern of habitual negative thinking, it is really important to seek help. A therapist can help you challenge and overturn thinking patterns that are holding you back so you can begin to realise your full potential.
- Thinking traps are irrational thought patterns that conceal the reality and lead to making errors in decision making.
- Irrational thought patterns can make you jump to conclusions and often prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.
- The basis of bringing yourself out of these traps is by recognising if you are repeating a pattern of negative thoughts.
- It is important to challenge a mind trap by realising what is happening, considering if your thought process is rational.
- Thinking more carefully, giving yourself mental space can be a great tool to use against thinking traps.