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The Secret to Being Mentally Strong? Remove These 10 Errors from Your Mind

The Secret to Being Mentally Strong? Remove These 10 Errors from Your Mind

You may think thoughts are inconsequential – coming and going in a sometimes meaningful or meaningless way. But the thoughts we have and the way we think are more substantial than you may realise.

Getting into patterns of thought and creating different beliefs essentially shape our lives and our outlook on ourselves, how we perceive others and the world around us.

We can choose to think positive or negative thoughts on any given subject but, as humans, our tendency is to go straight to the negative which can have a detrimental effect on our mental strength.

Fixing Common Thinking Errors Can Bring You Lifelong Benefits

Making a conscious effort to notice our negative thought patterns and stopping them, takes great habit but it’s not impossible. It can be hard to undo a lifetime of thinking. But if you do find your thoughts are erring on the side of negative ask yourself, you should ask yourself: are they really benefiting me?

Here I’ll be going through 10 thinking errors and why they aren’t serving you. See if you identify with any of them and make today the day you start thinking differently.

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10 Most Common Thinking Errors You Should Get Rid of

Overgeneralising

We create core negative beliefs through overgeneralising but the reason we do this is because it’s easy to fall into the trap. If we failed badly at something then we apply that belief to every time we attempt that thing again and more. Say you were in a relationship where the other person cheated on you or treated you badly – overgeneralising would be to believe all men (or women) cheat or that you’ll always be treated badly in relationships.

Don’t push the outcome of one contained situation onto other areas of your life.

Ignoring the Positive

Have you found that if one thing goes badly in your day that’s all you can focus on? We tend to choose to ignore and filter out any positives even though they massively outweigh that one negative.

Try and make a habit of picking out and focusing on all the positive aspects of the day whether it was your smooth commute to work, your partner bringing you a cup of morning coffee, the delicious lunch you had – decide to look at these things and conclude that positivity is all around you. Don’t ruin a day by focusing on a single negative.

Taking Things Personally

It’s natural to feel like the world revolves around us but sometimes our thinking can cause us to only see things from our perspective and how we feel about a situation. If someone at work is short with you, you suddenly assume you’ve done something wrong. If your friend doesn’t text back straight away, then she must be angry at you for some reason.

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But most of the time it’s nothing to do with you but more to do with them. Don’t be so quick to make it about yourself and understand other people are going through different negative emotions that aren’t related to you. When this kind of situation happens, make a point of realising that other factors could be influencing another person’s reaction.

Negative Emotional Reasoning

When negative emotions come up it’s best to not let them influence our thoughts. But it’s very easy to believe the connection our mind makes with our negative emotions – if you feel you’re a bad person, it doesn’t actually mean that you are. If you’re feeling down and conclude you’re a loser, this doesn’t mean you are a loser!

Ride out any emotional reasoning and put it down to a blip – don’t make conclusions about yourself as a result of them.

Magnifying or Minimising

Negative expectations can cause us to think the ‘what if’ questions. If I quit my job what if I don’t find another one? What if I hate the new job? What if I hate the people I work with? And of course, this kind of thinking can stop us from making decisions we probably deep-down want to make. This is magnifying a situation in an unnecessary negative way.

On the other end of the spectrum, we can also minimise things especially positive and desirable aspects of ourselves. Both are detrimental to living our life in a confident and real way.

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Making Assumptions about What Others Are Thinking

Everyone sometimes makes assumptions about what others’ perceptions are on any given topic. But we can never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. If you have the tendency to believe people think badly or negatively of you then remember that most people are too busy worrying about themselves to truly care what you’re wearing, saying or how you act. Don’t put so much emphasis on assumptions.

Black and White Thinking

Sometimes it’s easy to think things are either one thing or another, in other words, all or nothing – good or bad. But this kind of limited thinking filters out all the shades of grey.

By doing this you don’t see every aspect of something – for example, if every project is a success or a failure then you can’t see the opportunities to grow or better any mistakes along the way that may lead to a completely different idea or direction. Remember the world is multi-faceted so make your perspective the same way.

Focusing on the ‘Shoulds’

Society has made us feel we need to live our lives in a certain way. A lot of the time we make decisions because we feel we should but who exactly is saying you should? Is it based on a set of rules made by other people? Is it because your family expect it of you?

Next time you feel yourself saying you should do something despite it making you unhappy, question why. Make up your own ‘shoulds’ that are based on what makes you happy.

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The Blame Game

When we have negative emotional reactions we can easily push the blame on to others. But only we can be held responsible for how we react to people and situations. Don’t hold other people responsible – no one can make us feel the way we feel except us. Once you get to grips with this, it can not only be empowering but greatly improve your relationships with others.

The Need to Always Be Right

This is a hugely common trait in many of us. How many times do you feel frustrated that someone has a different opinion or perspective than you? That constant need to prove that you’re right and they’re wrong is a mindset that can be changed.

Understanding that everyone is going through life with different challenges, experiences and perspectives is what makes this world an exciting place. Be cognisant of how others feel when voicing your opinion and respect theirs. Don’t feel like you always have to be right because sometimes you just might not be.

So remember, the way we think has far more influence on the shaping of our lives than you may realise. Changing negative thought patterns is a huge step towards creating a more positive mindset and outlook for the benefit of yourself and others.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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