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The bright side: how to challenge negative beliefs

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/mar/08/negative-beliefs-distorted-thinking

theguardian.com

The bright side: how to challenge negative beliefs
At the core of cognitive behavioural theory is the idea that our thoughts can act as a block that prevents us seeing events or ourselves in a positive light. Instead, we distort reality and foster negative beliefs about our situation. However, once identified, these negative beliefs can be challenged.

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Examples of distorted thinking

  • Seeing the world in terms of black and white extremes. 
  • A tendency to magnify our faults and minimize our achievements. 
  • Taking an isolated event and assuming that all other events will follow the same pattern. 
  • Jumping to conclusions.
  • Catastrophising: 

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Challenging beliefs

The first step is to become aware of which of these negative belief patterns you are susceptible to. Keep a journal and record your negative thoughts.

Ask yourself the following questions each time you experience negative beliefs.

  • What is my evidence for thinking this way?
  • Is there any evidence that doesn't support this belief?
  • Could there be other ways of interpreting this event?

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Beliefs As Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

What you believe influences the way you interpret events, how you feel, and how you behave. And much of the time, those beliefs turn into self-fulfilling prophecies.

Give Up Self-Limiting Beliefs

Challenge your beliefs by testing them to see if they're really true.
  • If you believe you're too socially awkward to make friends, ask yourself "What would I be doing if I were socially savvy?" Then, use a skill called, 'acting as if.' Act as if you were a socially savvy person.
  • That doesn't mean you need to be a phony. Instead, behave in a way that brings out another side of your personality.

Challenging Your Beliefs Takes Time

It's likely that everyone has a few self-limiting beliefs. 

To discover yours, spend some time thinking about your potential and assessing the assumptions you make about yourself that keep you from living your dreams.

It's likely that your beliefs, rather than your lack of ability, could be the biggest hurdle.

“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”

Robert J Hanlon

Hanlon’s Razor Explained

  • We tend to associate completely disconnected events in a unique way, fitting them into our ‘story’, the narratives we build to create our distorted version of reality.
  • The patterns we think exist may not actually do so, but that does not stop us from assuming negative intent or malice in all that happens around us.
  • We need to realize that the world does not revolve around us and try to approach situations and events in a neutral, objective manner.

The Way To Apply Hanlon’s Razor

The basic rules that we need to apply:

  1. Move from assuming bad intentions towards exploring other causes.
  2. Engage in active communication.
  3. Embrace opportunities.
  4. Stay positive and driven.
  5. Stop blaming and focus on creative problem-solving.
  6. Assume a neutral, unbiased position.

Hanlon’s razor is a potent mental model which can be used in any situation where our first instinct is a negative assumption. Any wrong hypothesis related to the bad intentions of others is counterproductive and can play havoc in our lives.

Narrative Habits

The way we talk to ourselves about the events in our lives is subject to the same laws of learning and habit formation that physical behaviors are.

That means we can learn to talk to o...

Events + Thoughts = Emotions

Our emotions are always mediated by some form of thinking. 

If our thoughts determine how we feel, that means how we habitually think will determine how we habitually feel.

Mind Reading

It happens when we assume we understand what other people are thinking without any real evidence.

It is a failure of imagination because we often only imagine and focus on the negative aspects.