The same can happen to our thinking patterns.
Sometimes, our thinking habits are distorted – not logical. It’s a bit like a computer program getting a virus – it stops the program working efficiently or may make the computer respond in a less than helpful way.
Another way of looking at it is by comparing our thinking to allergies. The body’s immune system is primed to fight disease, but sometimes the body sees something completely harmless like pollen, or dust, or peanuts and tries to fight that instead. The reactions we get are unhelpful and distressing.
Thinking errors are distorted ways of thinking. They trigger anxiety and make us react in unhelpful ways. Which of these do you do?
Black & white thinking. If you feel you can’t succeed straightaway, better not to try at all. All of the grey inbetween is irrelevant in this thinking error.
Generalising. One bad experience and we believe all similar situations will be bad – even if there is evidence to the contrary.
Critical thinking. You use concrete definitive, forceful thoughts like these, rather than ‘would like to’, want to’, ‘can do’ which are more forgiving of your self and others.
Mind reading/Fortune Telling. You jump to conclusions about what others think or will do. These predictions are usually based on your fears rather than fact.
Some of these thinking errors are a major feature of behaviour disorders such as OCD. Catastrophising and the perfectionism associated with Black & White thinking is at the root of the anxiety experienced with OCD for example. Black & White thinking can also be a trait of ASD and Critical Thinking is one of the drivers for ODD.
Learning to observe and correct these thinking errors is important for improving your emotional wellbeing, your relationships with others and your ability to succeed in life.