Our thoughts impact our actions, and ultimately, the level of success we achieve in the things we attempt. Our thought patterns influence our emotions and our perspective of the world around us. If you can identify your less-than-helpful thought patterns, you can work to correct them and develop new ways of managing yourself and the world.
Your thought patterns influence every aspect of your life:
1. Making assumptions.
Making good decisions requires gathering information. Too many of us jump to false conclusions because we do not have all the facts. Before you reach a negative conclusion about a situation or person, delay your judgment. Instead, gather all the available information and make an informed decision.
- How many times have you made a decision too quickly and regretted it?
- Give yourself the chance to get it right.
2. Applying the past to the future.
The most gorgeous person in high school may have ignored you, but that has nothing to do with your ability to appeal to the person of your dreams today. The past does not have to equal the future.
- Most of us are too quick to believe that we are experts regarding our abilities.
- One failure is not enough evidence to prove anything. Pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to test a new drug or device on a single person and then release it to the public. Many, many attempts are required to prove that results are not due to random chance.
- You would not believe that a flipped coin will only land on “heads” in the future after flipping it once or twice and getting that result? Would you?
- Even if you currently lack natural skill in one area, you always have the ability to learn.
- You were not born knowing how to walk or do algebra. By the same token, you can learn to become a better public speaker, salesperson, or social butterfly, as well.
3. Focusing too much on either the positive or the negative.
Strive to be accurate. Think about when you first start dating someone new. At first, you are completely focused on all their positive traits. As the relationship is matures, or begins to fail, the only things you can seem to observe are their negative and annoying habits. Neither is totally accurate.
4. Giving things too much importance, or too little relevance.
Do you give your failures too much of your attention? Do you give your successes too little? Take a balanced view. Just because your boss ignored your morning greeting does not usually mean that you are about to be fired. Give yourself the credit you deserve.
5. Taking something personally that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
People do and say things for many reasons that do not include what is going on with your life. They may simply be having a bad day or dealing with a personal issue absolutely unrelated to work. Your car breaking down does not indicate that the universe is out to get you. Others have more on their mind than just you.
6. Living in the past.
The past provides us with life lessons. However, most people do not use the past in a constructive manner. They focus on all of the missed opportunities and missteps. When used this way, the past creates feelings of regret, and a feeling of doom and gloom going forward. Let go of the past and avoid allowing it to cloud your vision of today, and your plans for your future.
7. Focusing on the future.
Having goals and plans is important! But, commonly, people use the future as a source of worry. Stay focused on today. Today is the only time you can do anything to change your life. Allow the future to arrive in its own time and way. It will come soon enough.
8. Putting things off.
Is it easier to have your muffler replaced when you first begin to notice that it is extra noisy, or you can see that it is deteriorating. Or, you can choose to wait until it falls off in the middle of the highway? Actually, my mother’s muffler fell off during a funeral procession. 🙂
If you wait until you are forced to deal with things, your solutions will be less elegant and less convenient. See one of our posts on Procrastination. Do things on your time.
We all indulge in at least a few of these negative thought patterns? Taking the time to notice our tendencies is the first step toward changing them. When we can catch yourself thinking in a way that clouds our judgement, we have an opportunity to replace our thought pattern with one that serves us so much better.