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Four mental foibles we all cherish – and how to get rid of them.

Four mental foibles we all cherish – and how to get rid of them.

    As human beings, we have a natural wish to improve ourselves, and are always looking for ways to be more efficient, focused and fulfilled. However, we also have the opposite tendency to cherish certain limitations that prevent us from achieving these exact things! Let’s go into four of these limitations in detail.

    1. Imagining the worst possible future.

    When something bad happens, our mind often has a tendency to compound it by projecting forward into the future and imagining the worst thing that could happen as a result. Such a course of action can be very tempting, especially if we can portray ourselves as a victim and wallow in self-pity as a result. However, if we can look back on times when we have done this (and we all have at some stage) we can see that these nightmare scenarios have nothing to do with reality. Perhaps that’s where the saying “Cheer up, it will never happen” comes from – because it does never happen!

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    A very influential psychological model developed by Weiner et al. in the 1970’s suggested that the happiest people are those who see bad things that happen to them as impermanent and changeable events rather than situations that are going to persist forever. That indeed is the key – to try to see any bad situation that happens to you as part of a larger picture that sure enough contains a lot of bad, but a lot of good things too. One very useful exercise can be to visualise all the good things in your life, and to offer a feeling of gratitude that each of them are there. This helps to stop any misfortune that occurs from taking over your view of the world completely.

    2. Only seeing others’ bad qualities

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    When we are annoyed with someone, we often tend to bring their bad qualities first and foremost in our minds until they crowd out any good qualities they might have. This can backfire on us in a number of ways. Firstly, we are all imperfect, so holding others up to a perfect standard of behaviour will definitely contribute to the hurt we feel when something happens to bring us face to face with our own imperfections. Secondly, your negative thoughts have an uncanny way of influencing your dealings with that person in such a way that bring those exact negative qualities in them to the fore, and further reinforce the situation.

    You can turn this situation around and gain a more balanced picture of the people you interact with if you can realise the consequences listed above and how harmful they can be to your wellbeing. Try to feel what a waste of energy dwelling on what a bad person someone is and begin a new resolution to focus your attention on the things that matter.

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    3. Feeling we have all the time in the world.

    One common mental failing is imagining that we have infinite time at our disposal. We wake up in the morning with a full day ahead of us, and then reached the evening with nothing much done and wondering where all the time went! We have to value time as a very precious resource. ‘Morning shows the day’, so the saying goes, but very often we tend to start the day engaged in ‘pseudo-work’ like checking emails. But instead, if we can buckle down and get a concrete task done first thing in the morning, we will gain a momentum to move onto the next task. If your mind is creating some apprehension about a big task you have to do, try and start with a little sub-task and imagine you have to do only that. Accomplishing something small – even paying a bill or getting something from the shops – can generate the confidence you need to see the thing through to the finish.

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    4. “I can’t do it…”

    As a child, we were always ready to give anything a try, and we were happy just painting or singing or running without wondering were we any good at it. But as we grow older we develop more fixed ideas about what we are capable of, and we often tend to just summarily decide whether we can or can’t do something before even lifting a finger. But where did we get most of those fixed ideas from? If we look back, we see that most of the time we got them from society and the opinions of other people, or perhaps from one single failure which influenced our attitude for the rest of our lives. When faced with a new opportunity, we need to cast all this baggage aside and just seize the moment.

    Often we reinforce this “can’t do” attitude by watching someone who is expert in a certain field – e.g playing a musical instrument – and feeling that it is too late to start practising ourselves because we will never get up to that level. The key to overcoming your lack of confidence in your ability is to just throw away all expectations of an end goal and let your happiness stem from the simple fact that you have started doing it! All good things in life take some time to perfect, and you will have good days and bad days, but don’t attach too much importance to one or the other; in either case, just be grateful for the opportunity to expand yourself and find out what you are truly capable of.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

    How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

    Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

    • Intro to Visual Facilitation
      • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
    • Structure
      • Why, What, How to, What If
    • Do It Myself?
      • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
    • Specialize Offering?
      • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

    This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

    You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

    To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

    What Is a Mind Map?

    A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

    In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

    The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

      Image Credit: English Central

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      By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

      3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

      The three steps are:

      1. Set a central topic
      2. Add branches of related ideas
      3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

      Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

      Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

      Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

      Word it in a clear and concise manner.

        What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

          Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

          Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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            You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

            In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

            Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

            Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

            Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

              I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

              In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

              Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

              You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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              • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
              • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
              • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

              Branch by Branch

              Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

                Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                  A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                    Level by Level

                    In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                      Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                        Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                          Free-Flow

                          Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                            I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                            What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                            Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                            The Bottom Line

                            When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                            If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                            More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                            Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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