5 Dangerous Thinking Patterns That Hurt Productivity

Whether we’re answering emails, loading the dishwasher, or spending time on social media, our brains are constantly working. Professor Melody Wilding, who studies human behavior, says that sometimes such unproductive thoughts occupy us no more than the quiet hum of a refrigerator, and sometimes they completely absorb attention.

At the same time, background thoughts can both lift us to new heights and lower us to the bottom. Wilding identifies several particularly dangerous thought patterns that prevent us from being effective.

1. Follow the principle of “all or nothing”

He makes us see the situation in all sorts of extremes without any golden mean. Imagine that you have an important task ahead of you, and one of your first thoughts is “If I fail, then I am a failure.” This is a standard example of this pattern of thinking.

Often the principle of “all or nothing” manifests itself in the belief that it is necessary to achieve the maximum in something in order for it to become a part of life. Let’s say you come up with recipes for healthy and tasty homemade meals and want to share them with the whole world. However, you think that you can’t just post them on social networks. First you need to become a Certified Healthy Lifestyle Specialist and Professional Chef . Only then will you get the right to publish your recipes.

Wilding believes the truth lies somewhere in between. Do not unnecessarily complicate or simplify the situation. Each individual case has its own nuances, and a radical look at the problem is unlikely to help solve it.

2. Generalize

This pattern acts in much the same way as “all or nothing” – brings the situation to the maximum. But there is a difference between these models of thinking. If the all-or-nothing approach applies to a specific situation, then the generalization becomes a global template. For example, if your last working presentation had questions, you might think that the next one will also be a failure.

Meanwhile, the generalization is never true. When you find yourself starting to think this way, Wilding advises you to stop, take a deep breath , and look at the facts. Yes, maybe the last presentation didn’t go the way you wanted it to. But thanks to this, you will certainly prepare for the next one especially diligently. So right?

Past failures do not determine your future. And you can change the script of your thinking in order to abandon this unproductive pattern.

3. Reject positive reviews

This thought pattern is especially common among people with low self-esteem. Imagine that you have worked long and hard on a project and it is finally completed. A colleague tells you that you are great and did a great job. And in response, you are embarrassed and say that this is the result of team efforts and you have nothing to do with it.

The inability to accept compliments is one manifestation of this thought pattern. Melody Wilding gives another example: when you do something well, but tell yourself that anyone could do it.

To combat this mindset, Wilding advises creating your own “show-off book.” Set aside time every day or every week to write down your victories. They do not have to be associated with outstanding achievements . These may be moments when you stood your ground in a difficult argument or tried to do something outside of your comfort zone. Over time, you will learn to appreciate yourself and your abilities.

4. Rely on emotional reactions

When we react to a situation emotionally and then analyze our behavior, we fully trust our feelings and consider them absolutely true.

For example, you feel that you are not suitable for a certain job. And it seems to you that this is true, because it is not in vain that you feel all this. Or you finally set boundaries in a relationship with a person who has constantly violated your personal space. And then you feel guilty and start thinking: “Probably you shouldn’t have done this.”

But our emotions don’t always accurately reflect who we are and what’s going on in our lives. Wilding advises dealing with such impulses in the following way. Set a timer for anything from 90 seconds to 30 minutes. During this period, allow yourself to feel any emotions – sadness, guilt, anxiety, or whatever. Once time is up, pick yourself up and move on. This will help to throw out emotions immediately, instead of worrying all day.

5. Use the word “should”

Statements with the word “should” are built on the basis of our expectations. Let’s say you can’t figure out the economic issues that you need to deal with at work. At some point, you will probably have the thought “I have to learn this right now.”

Wilding advises to analyze where the expectations come from in our head, which we then formulate with the word “should”. Maybe this is what a boss, a loved one or parents expect from us.

Carefully study your internal attitudes and think about how they appeared in your head and whether they prevent you from living the way you want. Instead of focusing on what you can’t, focus on what you can do.

Dangerous patterns that are firmly planted in the brain are almost impossible to completely get rid of. But that doesn’t mean we should let them get the better of us. We can learn to notice their manifestations in time and deal with them. A little practice – and negative attitudes will be replaced by positive ones.

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