How we think affects how we feel, and ultimately how we behave. We all see the world through our own lenses – lenses coloured by our past experiences and belief systems. Many times, we are oblivious to the thought distortions that go on automatically in our minds. We carry on thinking that way, painfully affected by the negative effects of such thinking, but unaware of the shadow it casts on us.
Thought distortions, or cognitive distortions, are errors of thinking. They include examples like mind reading, over-generalisation and personalisation.
Take for example mind reading. You are attending a job interview, and one of your interviewers is checking his mobile phone frequently. You interpret his behaviour as being uninterested in you, you start feeling discouraged and you end up not performing well for your interview.
Instead of succumbing to what might be an error of thinking on your part, why not start learning to challenge these thought distortions in order to produce better outcomes for yourself? One such challenge is using alternatives – come up with other possible explanations of why your interviewer could be using his mobile phone. Perhaps he has an urgent matter to attend to? Perhaps he is just not a good communicator?
Another challenge could be identifying what a wiser person would say to you about your situation. Perhaps this friend would say “Keep focused on your goal! You can do it!”. And based on this encouragement, you psyche yourself up to complete the interview with newfound confidence.