Confident Thinking - Part Four

The last three 'warped thinking' approaches are Personalisation and Blame, Generalisation, and Should, Musts and Ought To's. 

1. Personalisation and blame.  Taking things personally even when it's not your fault, or believing it's everyone else's fault whilst ignoring your part in the situation. For example you are working on a project with some colleagues, things are going much slower than expected and your colleagues and line manager seem frustrated.  You feel guilty thinking you should have done more and feel incompetent yet again.  Your colleagues had just as large a part to play in the project as you and some of the delay was down to external factors that no-one could influence.  e.g. you often run late and one day you arrive late to meet a friend as agreed for a train journey.  The train leaves before you get there although your friend was waiting for you, who is angry with you when you arrive.  You get cross with her thinking she could have reminded you of the train time, she could have got on the train instead of being angry with you, and in any case you did turn up. 

How to overcome this:

a) Ask yourself what responsibility you had in the situation and take that responsibility, but only that responsibility

b) Work out what other factors contribute to the situation and what things you can do something about and which you can't change

2. Generalisation.  Making assumptions based on minimal evidence e.g. you go on a course which involves some work on a computer.  You once went on a detailed computer course and couldn't get the hang of it so you say to yourself you'll never understand today's course, you lose confidence and motivation and opt out. e.g. you have a few good friends whom you can trust.  But one friend has let you down a time or two, not turning up or talking about you behind your back.  After the latest let down you say "friends are all the same, you can never trust them, I'm better off without them."

How to overcome this:

a) Check what evidence you have for thinking as you do

b) Ask yourself what you would say to yourself if you were your own best friend

3. Should, musts, ought to's.  Criticising yourself or others for things you feel you / they should do e.g. you have had a particularly busy and stressful time at work with huge demands on you so you don't achieve all that you set out to achieve. You say to yourself "I should have got that done, I should be able to deal with all this, I've failed again". e.g. your partner hasn't decorated the spare room even though she said she would.  She has had some issues to deal with at work and problems to sort out for her parents, yet you think "she should have done that, after all I cleared the room out for her."

How to overcome this:

a) Ask yourself "what's the best use of my / their time right now?"

b) Use the word 'prefer' rather than 'should' or 'must' or 'ought to'

c) Give yourself and others some slack!

Bonus Tip When you find yourself slipping into damaging thoughts, start by identifying that's what you're doing, then work out what are the consequences of thinking that way.  Finally, work out what would be more positive and confidence-enhancing thoughts and actions and practise adopting these instead. As you get better at this, watch your confidence, and your mood, grow.

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