We’ve talked about several ways of thinking that are not helpful—and even harmful, along with suggestions about how to counter each one. Let’s do a round-up of these:
- Black-and-white thinking
- Ask questions to arrive at a more balanced viewpoint: “Really?” “What do you mean by…?”
- Use more nuanced words— “gray” or middle-of-the-road words. Steer clear of always, never, ever, totally, etc.
- Give someone the benefit of the doubt—recognize that something doesn’t always happen, even if it happens often.
- Mind reading
- Remember that you are not a Certified Mind Reader; question your assumptions.
- Ask questions to verify the facts.
- Compassionately reflect what you are basing your assumptions on: “Charlie, you look upset.”
- Let others be responsible for their own thoughts and actions.
- Notice the charges that the inner prosecutor is bringing against you and examine the evidence. Do some cross-examination. The cause-and-effect the prosecutor is alleging might be from events that aren’t even connected.
- Practice self-compassion. Give your inner defender a permanent and powerful role.
- Label behavior and events, not people. Be specific.
- Monitor your inner child’s ‘name-calling’ and ask questions about what provoked it.
- LOL – Leave Out Labels!
- Negative Filtering
- Audit your accounting – find the missing items on the positive side of the balance sheet.
- Acknowledge mistakes without exaggerating them.
- Take positive action to overcome difficulties.
- Practice a growth mindset. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
- Watch your language! (especially every, everyone, never, and ever)
- Call the situation for what it is. Fact-check. Every red light? Did you ever make it to work?
- Acknowledge disappointment or frustration for what it is.
Do you see a common thread in many of these counter tactics? Many involve our use of language. A choice of words can affect our emotions! Many involve being aware of our thoughts and self-talk. Talk to yourself thoughtfully, and compassionately. Be a friend to yourself. Use specific language instead of broad categories. Talk about events and behavior instead of people. Acknowledge disappointments or defeats without exaggerating them. Monitor your self-talk and watch your language!
Another common thread is fact-checking and questions. A good topic for next week!