5 Common thinking errors that will defeat your confidence

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It was a game changer when I discovered that there are patterns of thinking that we all fall into that feed our anxieties, our low moods and that can harm our self- esteem.

Your thoughts can have a great impact on the way you are feeling and consequently on how you behave. Even when those thoughts don’t match up with what is happening in reality, they will shape the way you see yourself, others and the world around you and how you interact with it.

We cantl solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Einstein

There are common unhelpful thinking styles that can start up a negative brain loop if you get caught up in them. Consequently, you can start to spiral downward to the point of feeling overwhelmed, lacking in energy and not confident at all to keep stepping out of your comfort zone and facing new challenges.

The knowledge of their existence helped me break that loop and change my perspective of reality. I was able to identify what common distorted ways of thinking I was falling into and eventually replace them with more balanced thoughts.  

Now is your opportunity to break through them by starting to recognise the inaccurate stories you tell yourself and manage them. This way you can continue to reach out for your goals with the confidence and energy that will support you in making decisions and taking healthy risks.

All or nothing thinking

This dichotomous way of thinking is characterised by looking only at the extremes of the situations where you have a continuum of possibilities. It is also called Black and White Thinking. You tend to ignore the middle ground and look at projects from a bad/good or failure/success perspective.

It is tied to a perfectionistic mind-set, if it is not perfect IT is bad. If you didn’t hit your objectives you would rather have failed. Although you have probably learnt a lot during the process you ignore it in terms of feeling satisfied with the situation.

This can have an effect on your confidence as you will be more likely to lose commitment and give up because it hasn’t worked perfectly or as you expected it to.


HOW TO DEAL WITH IT:

Remind yourself that there are situations that fall somewhere in the middle ground, that everything is not Black and White and that there are grey shades/areas that are worth looking at.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is this in the spectrum?

Mental filter or filtering out the positive

This one works by focusing on just one part of the event and ignoring the rest.  You would be filtering the information with the tendency to focus on the negatives and upsetting features of a situation and ignore the positives aspects.

This will prompt you to stick to that one mistake you made or that one bad thing that happened today, out of the other good experiences you might have had. Or even, disregard positive feedback from others.

Obviously, this is going to diminish your confidence by giving you an unrealistic vision of the event, yourself, others and life in general, a perspective of “not good enough”.


HOW TO DEAL WITH IT:

Start accepting positive feedback instead of dismissing it. Learn to say “thank you” after you receive a compliment with no “buts” afterwards. Make sure you are looking at both sides, not only negatives but also the positive aspects of the situation.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I only noticing the negative stuff?

  • What would be a bit more realistic?

Overgeneralisation

In this case you would be taking a single incident, negative situation or event and generalise it to other areas of your life, to other people, or the world.

If a you made a bad decision, you would end up thinking you always make bad decisions or that you don’t know how to make good decisions. If you meet someone that is mean to you, then you would take it as if everyone is always mean or hates you.

You look at the past in order to make assumptions of the present or future, using words such as “always”, “never”, “everyone” or “every single time”.


HOW TO DEAL WITH IT:

Catch yourself and others using those words, it is likely that an overgeneralisation is being made. Then, look for the exception of the rule.

Ask yourself:

  • How does this apply to this specific situation?

Jumping to conclusions

As the name implies you tend to make assumptions quickly about how things are and how they are going to be without any justification whatsoever. There are no real facts or evidence to support that conclusion. You will be basing it on your opinions or a feeling you had and these tend to be negative.

You can assume you know what someone(s) intentions are, is thinking or feeling, normally towards you (mind reading) or you can anticipate what is going to happen (fortune telling).

MIND READING

In reality, you can’t be sure what someone is planning to do or is thinking about. You can only assume.

You start to worry about what others might think and start guessing a lot of different options, probably the worst case scenarios. This behaviour is detrimental to your confidence as it will have an effect on how you behave and relate to it and others.

Perhaps, you are giving a talk, or organising an event and you see people laughing while looking at you. Instead of taking into account all the alternatives you jump to conclusions thinking they are laughing at you. Perhaps they liked what you said, are having fun or they remembered something that made them laugh.

HOW TO DEAL WITH IT:

Ask, get more data, test it. Think of questions to find out whether your assumptions are right or not. Remind yourself that what you are assuming is not necessarily true.


Ask yourself:

  • What other reasons could explain their behaviour?

  • What is another balanced way of looking at it?  


FORTUNE TELLING

Believing we know 100% what negative things are going to happen.

Let’s pretend you have an important meeting to attend to and you “know if you say something you are going to mess it up” or “If you try you will probably fail”.


HOW TO DEAL WITH IT:

Remember past experiences where you thought it was going to be a disaster and it didn’t turn out to be that way. Conduct little experiments and see how accurate you are, be curious and don’t let your prediction stop you from trying.

Be careful with this one because you can self-sabotage to prove you are correct, you may opt not to try you best, so you can say “I knew it” or “I told you”. These can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Remember it is about looking at all the things you can put in place to do your best before the test.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I know?

  • What else could it happen if I [insert alternative behaviour/option]?



Thinking errors

There are many ways in which we are used to thinking, habits, pattern of thoughts that we are unaware of and that are making an impact on how we feel and act. They are having an effect on our confidence and consequently on our success.   

Some examples are: The all or nothing thinking style, mind reading, generalisations and when we jump to conclusions by falling into the mind reading or fortune telling, unhelpful way of thinking.

Learn to recognise these thinking styles and ask yourself how true these assumptions are. What else is there behind a behaviour and how else you could have looked at it?


Lydia Garcia Martin

LET CONFIDENCE SET YOU FREE


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