I encourage people to set goals and strive to achieve more in their life. I really like to foster ambition and the commitment to fulfil the ambition. But, one of the problems with goal setting is that we tend to look outside of ourselves form the improvements we need to make. That is not always the right place to look. We need to understand that the best type of life is built from the inside out. Rather than just react to external circumstances, we think about what we really want from life and we make plans to create that life. Most of the great things we experience in life begin as thoughts in our mind.
With that in mind (pardon the pun) if you are having some negative experiences in life, it is quite possible that you are thinking negatively and this has produced some of your negative outcomes.
4 Common thinking errors
There are many different types of thinking errors and I will address them in greater detail in a later article. However, I want to address four of the most common and damaging thinking errors. If you are engaging in these thinking errors, you are going to create a negative mindset which will make it more difficult to create a positive life.
When we communicate with others, we often leave gaps in the information we provide. There is a natural tendency to try to close these gaps. The proper way to close the gap would be to ask the relevant questions of the person who is communicating with us.
If you have a negative mindset, you may not do this. Instead, you may try to fill in the blanks with what you assumed the other person meant. When you choose a negative assumption, you are taking the situation down a negative path and, the situation can easily escalate.
Many relationships have been badly damaged by assumptions.
2. Mind reading
This is very similar to assumptions where we interpret other people’s thoughts, behaviours and actions without ever asking them. For example, as someone who has struggled with social anxiety, I often felt that when others didn’t include me in activities, it was because they didn’t like me. I later found that it was usually because I gave the impression that I didn’t want to be involved.
I missed out on a lot of positive activities because I tried to mind read rather than put myself forward.
3. Black or white thinking
Many of us are raised to believe that something is either right or wrong. If it isn’t done the way we believe to be right, we often feel offended by what we see as an injustice. In reality, there are many ways to do most things. Rarely is something either right or wrong; there are usually shades of grey.
It is far better to think in terms of values i.e. what you are prepared to accept and what you are not prepared to accept. At least this way you are acknowledging that is your interpretation and others may not agree.
Having your own, clearly defined values, is a critical part of a positive life. If you are unclear about your values, check out Values Based Living.
4. Catastrophic thinking
Just because something goes wrong, it doesn’t mean that it is the end of world. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has some tough experiences. Bad events usually seem much worse in the moment. If you tend to think of every small problem as a catastrophe, you are going to end up with a very negative mindset which hinders your ability to derive happiness and satisfaction from life.
The ability to remain calm, composed and confident in the face of adversity is a critical component of a positive mindset. When you learn to achieve this, you will experience a more positive life.
Happiness does not lie outside of you. When you are happy, the biggest factor in that happiness is you. It is the way you think, believe and act which brings that happiness into your life. We all want a positive life where we can be happy, with or without a reason for that happiness. When life is not going as we would like it to, it is very easy to look at outside factors. But before you do so, it may be more helpful to examine your mindset. Are you thinking negatively? If you are, it may well be that those negative thoughts are creating the negative life which you are currently experiencing. We all have some negative thoughts each day but when it gets out of hand, the consequences can be severe. So, if you are engaging in thinking errors, it is a good time to correct those errors.