29 Oct DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK
Moss Jackson, PhD
Success Psychologist and Life Coach
If you want to be an effective Life Navigator, you have to get your thinking straight. The problem is we are prone to jump to the wrong conclusions, most of which are highly negative.
Maybe it is time to stop taking your thoughts too seriously!
Maybe it is a good idea to not be so trusting of your thinking!
Maybe what you are thinking is delusional!
Consider these two situations and the conclusions Eric makes.
Eric is walking down the hall to an important manager’s meeting. He is about to deliver an important sales presentation that he and his team have been working on for the past week. His supervisor, the President and the, owner of his company will be present. On his way to the meeting room, he passes the President. Eric says “hello”. The President does not respond. Instead he walks quickly past Eric with a furrowed brow and a downward glance. Eric’s heart drops and his stomach sinks. Eric realizes he is in deep trouble and he is about to be fired. He wants to run to the men’s room.
In another situation, Eric calls an important client several times. The client is either not there or busy. After three calls, Eric concludes his client is upset with his sales team and is probably thinking about transferring the account to a competitor. Eric is wondering what he can do to save the day. Perhaps he should reduce the cost of the sales and just take the hit in order to retain a good client.
Maybe Eric is right in both situations: his President is upset with him and the client is about to transfer the account to another sales company. But, then again, maybe Eric is totally wrong and delusional!
OUR NEGATIVITY BIAS
It seems our brains are fundamentally wired more for negativity than for positivity. If we have about 2,500 conscious thoughts day, about 2,000 or eighty percent of them are negative. I will explain why in a later post. The key point here is that our brains seem to tilt in the direction of “something is wrong” much too easily. This sets us up for some rather delusional and “bad news” thinking.
If Eric had the courage and right thinking, he might consider his negative conclusions as hypotheses and not fact. He might even go to his President to clarify his interpretation. Imagine his relief if he had followed up the meeting by asking his President the following: ”I just wanted to check something with you. When I saw you in the hallway and said “hello”, you walked by without saying anything. I thought maybe you might be upset with me about something and I wanted to check with you rather than jumping to a false conclusion.” His President says “Thanks for checking with me. I didn’t realize I was being rude. I failed to even hear you. I think I was too caught up with a problem I was having and I was trying to figure out the best way to tell the owner.”
Or imagine Eric emailing the hard to get client with a short message like, “I imagine you must be quite busy and perhaps did not get my previous three messages. I want to make sure we are on the right track and giving you the high level service we promised you. Get back to me when you can so I can handle any possible breakdowns in our delivery to your company.” In most cases, the client will quickly connect with Eric to clarify what was going on and perhaps Eric might help him out. The most likely scenario is that the client got caught up with something else and just did not get back to Eric in a timely manner.
THE LAW OF THE FALSE CONCLUSION
In both cases, Eric jumped to a false conclusion. Left unchecked, the result is anxiety, reduced confidence and poor communication. This is due to the negativity bias in our brains.
THE WAY OUT
Most of us can’t out think our negativity bias. But we can consider that our conclusions might not be correct and we have to check it out and get out of our heads. So, stop trusting your thinking as always being correct unless you like your negativity bias and prefer to be miserable. Always check things out so that you can either confirm there is a problem and solve it quickly or learn to navigate your conversations and thinking to more positive and effective direction.
To find out more on living of life of success and happiness check out my book on Amazon.