What are the most common toxic thoughts?
1. The exaggeration
We are not always aware of it, but there are moments in which we do not perceive the nuances but evaluate the situation in black and white. Faced with a negative situation, we exaggerate its impact and catalog it as a "catastrophe". This means that we are focusing not only on the negative aspects but also amplifying them. Undoubtedly, the sensationalism of the press and its owners has helped to create a society where everything is labeled as "disaster", every little problem, but on a personal level it is important to stay tuned to this toxic mechanism because it only causes frustration, despair and sadness. .
How to fight it? Learning to discover the positive aspects of each activity and to compare them with similar events, in such a way that we come to develop a more objective perspective on what happened.
2. The "should"
One of the main functions of thinking is planning, it is thanks to this that we can organize our behavior and predict its consequences. However, there are times when we start planning too many things but practice very little, we become victims of the "should". Usually these are things that we would like to do but never do, due to lack of time, because we do not believe we are up to it or simply because we postpone them until the conditions are more suitable. Other times we complain about things we would have liked to have done differently. Obviously, this kind of thinking generates a lot of frustration, because it is as if we are constantly looking in another direction, a direction that we do not dare to take.
How to fight it? It is not a question of radically changing life or jumping into the void without a parachute, but to eliminate this mentality we must analyze which of these desires can actually materialize and we must begin to take the appropriate measures, even if very small, to make sure that our dreams come true.
3. The generalization
It is a particularly useful form of thinking that allows us to reach conclusions starting from specific cases, but there are occasions when generalization becomes our enemy. When we begin to see patterns where none exist and suppose that a case can be valid for everyone, when we arrive at erroneous conclusions that lead to generic beliefs such as: "all women / men are ..." or "all the people of that country I'm …" . Generalization leads to the creation of a series of stereotypes that will ultimately determine our attitudes, behaviors and decisions, closing the doors to opportunities and creating problems in interpersonal relationships.
How to fight it? Pay attention to the words that precede the generalization, such as "all", "never" or "always". Once we have identified that we are going to make a generalization, the next step is to try to open up to the experience by freeing the mind of stereotypes.
Bringing together leaders and drawing conclusions is one of the main tasks of thinking. However, we often fall into the trap of drawing conclusions without having the necessary data. In practice, when faced with a fact and without sufficient evidence, we come to a conclusion that is almost always negative. The classic example is when our partner comes home late and we immediately think he might be having an affair when in reality we don't have proof. The saddest thing is that we take this conclusion as real and we regulate our behavior based on it. Hence jealousy, insecurities and problems in interpersonal relationships arise.
How to fight it? Before arriving at a conclusion we must ask ourselves if we have sufficient evidence or if it is just a whim of our mind, a projection of our insecurities. Also, when in doubt it is always best to ask.
We live in a world where everything is labeled, because labels are convenient and help us orient ourselves. However, once we put the labels left and right we end up adopting a rigid mindset that prevents us from developing as people. When we believe we are made this way or that way and label ourselves accordingly we are denying our potential. If we believe we are able to do only certain things we will never dare to try new paths and we will be condemned to stagnation and to a life in which there is no room for novelty.
How to fight it? We have to ask ourselves, first of all, where does the label come from. Often it is a brand that our parents or friends have imposed on us, perhaps because we were like this up to a certain point in our life, but that doesn't mean we can't change.
6. The sense of guilt
We tend to think in terms of cause and effect, due to the fact that our thinking (usually) follows logical paths. So when something bad happens we want to know what the causes were. However, there are occasions when the search for causes becomes a witch hunt and the guilty thought appears. In this case, what matters is not learning from the mistake but simply judging and blaming ourselves or others. However, thinking in terms of victims and perpetrators means seeing only a part of reality by assuming a passive attitude.
How to fight it? It is best to eliminate the word guilt from our vocabulary and start thinking in terms of responsibility. When something has gone wrong, we have to adopt different perspectives trying to analyze the situation from as many points of view as possible, only in this way we will be able to form as faithful a picture as possible of what happened.
7. The naive optimism
When referring to wrong ways of thinking, one must take into account an enemy that usually goes unnoticed, but which has become fashionable in recent years thanks to the work of Positive Psychology: naive optimism. It is an exaggerated positive thinking that has little contact with reality and, of course, in the end it only generates frustration. In these cases, we think we can achieve everything we set out to do, we just need to work hard. However, perseverance and motivation are not enough to achieve our goals in life, there are other factors to consider or you run the risk of suddenly stopping.
How to fight it? Assuming the role of the analyst. If we want to achieve something or we are faced with a particularly difficult situation, we must take an inventory of all our psychological resources including the help we can receive from the environment.