Last month’s blog explained the Fallacy of Control and how it can impede an individual’s ability to rationally navigate life’s situations and experiences. This month, we will explore some of the “Thinking Traps” that we can all fall victim to and that can get in the way of our attaining or career and professional growth goals.
Meet the “Voice”
This visual provides an insight into the power of our thoughts and how they can impact our day-to-day experiences.
The majority of us live in a constant state of reactivity, being pushed and pulled by the thoughts and emotions we experience. It can feel as though we are controlled by a “voice” in our own head; a “voice” that worries about everything that can go wrong, criticizes us for everything we do wrong, and makes us feel guilty or angry about everything that went wrong. This “voice” provides an instantaneous interpretation of every situation. Typically, we don’t question the “voice”, just like we don’t question our breathing. It is part of our unconscious operating system. When we tune into the “voice” and its message(s) we feel and act based on the “voice’s” interpretation of our situation.
We all have that “voice” in our head. The important thing to remember is that this “voice” is NOT who you are. You are aware of the voice and you are the presence that witnesses the voice, but you are NOT the voice. Knowing this allows you to observe what the “voice” is thinking. This is called self-observation or self-awareness. This is the first step to increase your sense of control; becoming aware of the “voice”. Then you can “listen” for patterns or stories that the “voice” tries to tell you. There are 10 common Thinking Traps (or in psychological terms, cognitive distortions) that the “voice” can subscribe to. In this blog, we will look at three of them.
This thinking trap occurs when we have a mental filter that focuses only on negative events or outcomes and completely ignores or overlooks all of the positive experiences in our life. When the voice is speaking through this thinking trap it is pointing out all that is negative in our life and creating an overall negative perspective of the world. To overcome this cognitive distortion, you need to develop the habit of looking for the good within situations or experiences and practicing daily gratitude.
When this thinking trap is in action, the voice is telling us that we are the cause for all that goes wrong in our life. We end up blaming ourselves for everything that didn’t turn out the way we expected and tend to live the life of a victim of circumstance. To successfully work through this thinking trap, question what part you played in the outcome and how you might not be entirely to blame.
This thinking trap drives us to look at an experience or outcome in a way that completely blows it out of proportion. It can occur in two ways. While we are experiencing an unexpected event or when we are considering an action or experience and we begin to identify all of the things that could go wrong. This leads to intense anxiety and sometimes failure to commit or move forward with a necessary action or decision. To begin conquering catastrophic thinking, examine your thoughts and ask yourself if things are truly as bad as you are making them out to be and/or acknowledge that the worst-case scenario that you are creating in your mind and reacting to is not reality, just a thought.
In the next blog, we will continue to explore the common thinking traps that we all experience at some time and strategies for conquering them.
If you want a coaching partner to help you better understand and conquer the internal “voice” that is keeping you from manifesting the career and life you truly want, reach out via email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org -or- 970-481-3528.
Nikki Stansfield is trained as a professional coach and loves to support anyone who wants to intentionally create something meaningful within their professional lives.