Have you ever felt trapped before? Whether trapped in a relationship, trapped in a job, or trapped in an area or stage of life we all have experienced a sensation of being trapped. What if I told you that most likely you were trapped in your mind without even knowing it? What am I talking about? I’m referring to what’s commonly known as “thinking traps”. Thinking traps are patterns we allow our mind to stay within that impact our overall wellbeing and performance.
Since we talked about the power of the mind in the previous post, I thought it would be beneficial to go over some common thinking traps before we moved forward! I want to say, we all have our favorites. Personally? I mind-read and I label. It is very common for me to be in a situation and project onto someone else what they must be thinking (insert eye roll at myself here). Just recently someone was a bit short and snappy with me and my mind immediately went to “they think I’m such a burden and so annoying, ugh, I really AM annoying”. First I mind-read (they think I’m a burden) and then I labeled myself (I am annoying). In truth, I had NO idea what that person was thinking about me and maybe my behavior was annoying at the time but I don’t find myself annoying (at least most of the time).
Knowing and recognizing our common thinking traps, or cognitive distortions, is an important skill because we first have to recognize something before we can change it. I was able to evaluate my internal dialogue and challenge my thinking to make myself feel less uneasy. The key here is that I had made myself uncomfortable, nobody else did! We alone are responsible for our thoughts, behavior, and emotions, don’t give away that power by saying “they made me feel ___”! Take a look at the thinking traps below to see which ones are your most common. Don’t worry if there’s quite a few, I’m guilty of almost all of these at different points in time. Also, this is not an all-inclusive list, just some very common ones I see. You can find some great resources on thinking traps/cognitive distortions just by googling it.
Like mentioned in the last post, take a look at your common statements and find ways you can modify them in a way that works best for you. It may be something like “I didn’t do as well as I had hoped on this test” instead of “I’m a failure”. Take a deep dive into your normal patterns and see what pops up, I’d almost guarantee you’ll feel at least an iota better if you can address some of your cognitive distortions!