Our brains are designed to understand things by making connections between thoughts, ideas, actions and consequences. But sometimes they can be wrong, negative, or misleading.
Cognitive behavioral therapists refer to these cases as "cognitive biases". These traps lead us to perceive reality differently than it really is – and the most successful people have learned to recognize and avoid these mistakes at all costs.
While writing my book "The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care", I examined and interviewed psychologists to find out how these thought patterns can affect our health, happiness and ability to survive past struggles and achieve our goals ,
Here are some of the most common mental pitfalls that keep us from succeeding – and how we can overcome them:
1. Emotional thinking
Confusing our feelings as evidence of the truth is one of the most common mental traps we get into.
example: "ME feeling as if my ideas were worthless, hence me should not Share them in this meeting. "
Emotional thinking can often lead us to make bad decisions. In his 2015 letter to shareholders, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos warned of the risk of emotion overwhelming you when making important decisions, rather than taking a step back and trying to learn what you can know about a problem.
"Some decisions are logical and irreversible or almost irreversible," he wrote. "These decisions have to be made methodically, carefully, slowly and with great deliberation and advice."
To combat emotional thinking, cognitive therapists suggest asking the following questions: "What are the facts that support my emotional determination?" Or: "Is it possible that my feelings are clouded by a tendency that should be re-evaluated?"
When you stop turning your feelings into truth, you gain the logic and clarity that enable you to make smarter decisions.
We blame others when they are held accountable for their own actions and feelings.
example: Your cat fled through the door on the way to work. "Great," you say. "I'm late now, and it's the cat's fault."
We often blame others because it helps us "maintain our self-esteem by avoiding being aware of our own mistakes or shortcomings," said Susan Whitbourne, professor of psychology and brain science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst ,
However, if you don't take responsibility for the consequences of your own behavior, you won't learn from your mistakes. The ability to grow through your experience, especially the unpleasant one, is critical to success.
"Playing the blame game is irrational and stigmatizes the other party," says Gustavo Razzetti, author of Stretch Your Mind. He suggests that empathy can help you give up the habit of guilt. "Focus on understanding the other person. Try walking in your shoes. Eliminate the" right-wrong "approach."
Many of us have entered the negative spiral that no matter what happens, disaster will occur.
example: The news reports that a storm is approaching. They imagine all the bad things that can happen: "What if my house is destroyed?" "What if someone I love is hurt?" "What happened if I get injured?"
Fear, especially irrational fear, plays a major role in the disaster, as researchers have found. However, predicting the worst outcome is far from useful. In fact, studies show that it can lead to anxiety and depression.
The psychologist Judith Beth, who is best known for her work in cognitive behavioral therapy, recommends listing the advantages and disadvantages that arise from the time and energy required for disasters. Or, she says, playing Devil & # 39; s Advocate could be helpful and listing all best-case (or even OK-case) scenarios. You may be in a calmer, less anxious, and clearer state of mind.
4. Fallacy of fairness
In the error of fairness, a person believes that every situation should be determined by what is fair.
example: You are bitter that your colleague was promoted – and you did not. They complain that it's not fair: "She rarely comes to work on time and I probably work a lot harder than her."
But guess what? As a child, you have probably been told several times: Life is not always fair. If you accept the fallacy of fairness, you are more likely to feel angry, angry, or hopeless.
Psychology professors at Brigham Young University-Idaho suggest that expressing your feelings as preferences can help change your attitude to a situation.
Instead of being consumed by bitterness, say to yourself, "It would be nice to get a promotion, but I don't always have control over it. Maybe I can talk to my boss about how I can get one next year."
Personalization means taking everything personally or blaming yourself for no logical reason.
example: "My son got an & # 39; F & # 39; on his final exam, and it's all my fault. I should have spent more time helping him learn."
Psychologists have found that personalization can lead to feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacies. Take a step back and consider what role you played in the situation to overcome this cognitive bias. Then think about how you may not be entirely to blame.
If you look at things from an outsider's perspective, you may find that various factors were involved and that the result is not directly attributable to you.
Anna Borges is a writer, podcast moderator, mental health attorney and author of "The more or less definitive guide to self-care." Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, The Outline and SELF, among others. She lives with her two cats in Brooklyn, New York. Follow her on Twitter,
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