Thinking mistake # 2: overgeneralization
This belief tends to paint people, events, and other experiences with the same brush. If on a few occasions we experience disruptive conversations in a movie theater, we may conclude that all movie theaters are noisy and we should instead stay at home with the television on. In the end, we are only depriving ourselves of future experiences by going to the movies. This misconception fuels racism, sexism, ageism and can lead to many other negative emotions and behaviors like anger and hatred.
The key to challenging these negative and inaccurate thoughts is to first be aware that they are happening. The next step is to create a list of times when this didn’t happen. For example, try to remember times when the movie theater was quiet or when that spouse got over it. Slowly, by questioning these thoughts, thinking errors will take up less space while positive emotions and reduced frustration and stress will result.
Thinking mistake # 3: personalization
For those who gravitate towards this misconception, it’s easy to assume that everyone is watching us when we walk into the weight room. If we are following someone through a door and they are not holding it for us, we can assume that he or she did it on purpose. As a result, we feel disrespectful, hurt, and angry. Personalization also happens when we compare ourselves to everyone else we meet. Who is the most beautiful ? Who is thinner? Who is smarter?
This distortion of thinking promotes the belief that everyone is reacting to us in one way or another. Additionally, personalization can foster a sense of responsibility for any outside event that occurs. For example, the person who feels responsible for someone else’s illness may actively subscribe to this thinking error. In reality, we can only control what we do, say and feel and cannot control the actions, beliefs and emotions of others (unfortunately).