The way you think can have a huge impact on how you feel and behave. It is difficult to remember that our thoughts are not facts, they are created by us but they can seem so powerful that we believe them to be true. We focus on insufficient data or make illogical conclusions based on little or no evidence. Within cognitive behavioural coaching, we refer to these as thinking errors or cognitive distortions. Examples of these thinking errors include:
Mind-reading / Jumping to conclusions: “if I don’t stay late to finish the report, I’ll be fired”
Personalisation: “if this event doesn’t go well, it’s all my fault”
Emotional reasoning, mistaking feelings for facts: “I feel anxious; I know this presentation is useless”
Blame, not taking responsibility: “it’s all his fault, he should have told me…”
Magnification, making events seem worse than what they are: “that presentation was so bad, no one will ever ask me to do another”
Minimization, minimizing your role in a situation: “it must have been an easy assignment as I did well”
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it captures how our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviours. Within coaching, there are a range of techniques available to help you examine your thought patterns. One simple exercise is to write down your thoughts. This will help you to externalise and see them more clearly. Sometimes by writing it down, we can see that it is not true. Once you recognise your thoughts as just thoughts, you then can look and deal with situations differently. How many of the thinking errors can you relate too?