Our thoughts impact our actions, and ultimately, the level of success we achieve. Our thought patterns influence our emotions and perspective of the world. If you can identify your unhelpful thought patterns, you can correct them and develop new ways of managing yourself and the world.
Your thought patterns influence multiple aspects of your life:
- Making assumptions. Good decisions require information. Too many of us jump to false conclusions because we don’t have all the facts. Before you reach a negative conclusion about a situation or person, delay your judgment. 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 be right.
- Applying the past to the future. The most beautiful girl in high school might have ignored you, but that has nothing to do with your ability to appeal to the woman of your dreams today. The past doesn’t have to equal the future.
- We’re too quick to believe we’re experts regarding our abilities. One failure isn’t enough to prove anything. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to test a drug on just one person and then release it to the public. Many attempts are required to prove that results aren’t due to random chance.
- Would you believe that a flipped coin would only land on “heads” in the future after flipping it once or twice and getting that result?
- Even if you lack natural skill in one area, you can always learn. You weren’t born knowing how to walk or do algebra. You can learn to be a great public speaker, salesperson, or social butterfly, too.
- Focusing too much on the positive or the negative. Strive to be accurate. Consider when you start dating someone new. At first, you’re too focused on their positive traits. As the relationship is failing, you’re too focused on the negative. Neither is accurate.
- Giving things too much or too little relevance. Do you give your failures too much attention? Do you give your successes too little? Have a balanced view. Just because your boss ignored your morning greeting doesn’t mean you’re about to be fired. Give yourself the credit you deserve.
- Taking something personally that has nothing to do with you. People do and say things for many reasons that don’t include you. They might be having a bad day or dealing with a personal issue. Your car breaking down doesn’t mean the universe is out to get you. Others have more on their mind than just you.
- Focusing on the past. The past can provide lessons. However, most people don’t use the past constructively. They focus on the missed opportunities and mistakes. When used this way, the past creates feelings of regret. Let go of the past and avoid allowing it to cloud your future.
- Focusing on the future. Having goals and plans is great! But it’s common to use the future as a source of worry. Stay focused on today. Today is the only time you can change your life. Allow the future to arrive. It will come soon enough.
- Putting things off. Is it easier to have your muffler replaced when you notice it’s deteriorating or to wait until it falls off in the middle of the highway? If you wait until you’re forced to deal with things, your solutions will be less elegant and less convenient. Do things on your time.
Do indulge in any of these negative thought patterns? Noticing your tendencies is the first step to changing them. When you catch yourself thinking in a way that clouds your judgement, replace your thought pattern with one that serves you well.