Irrational Beliefs – Part 2

Most likely, as humans, you have experienced numerous cognitive distortions at one time or another. In the previous post, I highlighted 3 tendencies out of 11 cognitive distortions, and here is another 3 flawed pattern of thinking which are significant in our interactions and relationships. Once you are aware, you can improve and modify the faulty beliefs with practice.

Mental Filter – The mental filter distortion happens when an individual allows a single negative piece of information to overshadow and exclude the positive ones. For instance, when someone focuses on an unfavorable comment or incident and dwells on it while ignoring all positive remarks or experiences.

What to do: Write down the negative thought, challenge it, and reframe the thinking to a positive and realistic one. And remember that a negative situation does not remain negative forever.

Disqualifying the Positive – This distortion involves the rejection of positive statements or events by insisting that they are a fluke or argue against it: “that doesn’t count.”

For example, when someone is praised for a trait or a work, the receiver ignores it and disqualifies the comment based on “they are just nice.”

What to do: The best way to start managing these inaccurate thoughts is to practice receiving compliments and feedback with a simple: ‘Thank you”.

Jumping to conclusions:

  1. Mind reading variant –  it refers to inaccurate beliefs and negative interpretations based on assumptions. We might have an idea of what other people are thinking, however jumping to conclusions without justification by the facts is wrong. For example, you meet an unfriendly or bad-tempered person, and you automatically take it personally or think that they have bad intentions.
  2. Fortune telling variant – in this case, we imagine and predict horrible things will happen to us. Of course, we all feel anxious to some extent if a loved one is late and does not pick up the phone.

What to do:

  • Slow down and actively ask yourself whether your assumptions make sense and are based on valid reasoning or available evidence.
  • In both cases, Mind reading or Fortune telling, for you to remain calm, it is best to balance out by thinking about the two extremes, the negative thoughts, and the possible best outcome of any given situation. This way, you likely feel better.

 

Featured image by Lucio Carvalho

5 Ways To Cultivate Elastic Mind

The world, as we knew it is changing fast, and our competence needs a boost. The social, technological, and cultural developments affected by the pandemic are steaming ahead, and our survivor is much dependent on our emotional radar and our flexibility to adapt. We are trained to solve our problems with rational analysis and logical devices; however, the swirl of change is extraordinary, and the analytical thought process has its limitations. As, Leonard Mlodinow explains in his book – Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Constantly Changing World:

“Analytical thought is the form of reflection that has been most prized in modern society. Best suited to analyzing life’s more straightforward issues, it is the kind of thinking we focus on in our schools. We quantify our ability in it through IQ tests and college entrance examinations, and we seek it in our employees. But although analytical thinking is powerful, like scripted processing, it proceeds in a linear fashion…and often fails to meet the challenges of novelty and change.”

He further indicates that by embracing elastic thinking, we can effectively respond to new challenges.

The good news is that elastic thinking is an innate capacity that can be honed to reframe the problems and questions which open doors to new ideas.

Mlodinow writes that we solve problems through interactions of different systems in our brains. And as we are trained to dispense from inappropriate urges and unconventional ideas in favor of reason, those structures in our brain that generate new ideas must compete with other structures that censor them. To solve problems, our mental interactions and censors evaluate the most favorable solutions and eliminates the rest. This wiring is well suited to a stable environment as it considered ideas through the lens of what has worked in the past. However, in changing circumstances, we need a new approach to solving a problem.

He writes that as humans, we are attracted to novelty, and the reason is that dopamine is released when we face something new and non-threatening. Hence, we are inclined to explore, learn, and be rewarded with the feel-good dopamine that contributes to feelings of pleasure.

Here are his suggestions to develop elastic thinking:

  • Pick an idea that you don’t believe in and try to convince yourself of it. The idea is genuinely challenging your existing beliefs.
  • Dwell on an incident when you were wrong. Think about it hard for you to realize that you are not always right.
  • Try different food. Research has shown that by ordering the least popular food or a new dish, your creativity and imagination will increase.
  • Talk to strangers, people who are different from you, and think differently from you.
  • Go and see art—all genres of art, not necessarily the most famous paintings but diverse representations of arts.

Remember to cultivate an elastic mind, Mlodinow explains that we should adopt an unstructured approach and not force a logical process to all situations:

“The challenge of insight is the analogous issue of freeing yourself from narrow, conventional thinking.”

Featured Image by Morysetta

How To become More Resilient – Leadership Skills

Nobody has a soul unscathed. As famously Nietzsche has stated:

“What does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Truth be told, it is not easy to be resilient in chaos or adversity; however, research has shown that it can be learned. Stretching our mental muscles and drawing on key questions raised by the great thinkers gives us a leg up to control our thoughts and surpass oneself through the spine-chilling maze of setbacks.

Mindfulness, martial arts, and behavior change are recommended; however, lasting success depends on self-reflection. Growth is fueled by practical wisdom and reasoned decision-making. So how to start the introspection to develop resilience?

Training the brain with philosophical counseling sessions to think clearly at infliction points in our ventures or life is absolutely necessary. The process of observing our minds and learning from different schools of thought empowers us to take charge and develop resilience in times of crisis. Like in a plane emergency, we curb the impulse to run for the door by knowing in advance the rules and follow the instructions responsibly. The guidance will shape our perceptions and expectations into awareness, and our behaviors will become more productive rather than reactionary. Ultimately, the self-examination and preparation lead to a disciplined mind that helps us leap over the fatigue caused by unprecedented events, discord, or even malicious situations.

 

Change Your Perception

“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been.”

Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote the statement, the adherent of stoic philosophy highlights how perception plays an important role in your responses. A terrifying event has the potential to be agonizing or not, for it all depends on your perception. Therefore, you have a choice to experience the unfavorable circumstances in dismay or learn the skills to build resilience.

As humans, we can exaggerate stressors, fret, and run things over and over in our heads to the uncontrollable point. However, if you can adopt a positive outlook and reframe disastrous to challenging, you will be able to deal with calamities, learn, grow, and move on. A positive change in your perception is not to ignore and distort the reality but to ensure that you have control over your state of mind and emotional response.

 

 

Outline Your Expectations

Preparing your mind to question the underlying intentions of your expectations produce a valuable outcome in adversity. Since, the correlation between a challenge, an expectation, the course of action and the end result depend on your disposition. This means that unsettled and implicit intentions, an obscure plan of action or a goal will generate unrealistic expectations leading to resentment. However, the integration of philosophical notions to clarify your intentions influences your response and helps you confront the negative. Meditating on great philosophical ideas to become resilient and recover from adversity breeds self-control. This state of mind nurtures a rational, optimistic outlook to strategically analyze and gain attribution of productive motives from a third-party perspective.

The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.- Gary Zukav

Manage Your Behaviour

“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Sometimes, the end results are unfair, unreasonably, or wrongfully against you; however, the philosophical reflection will help you develop mental toughness. Ethically responding in the heat of battle sounds virtuous, yet, might not be practical as it is easier said than done! Although you choose to change your attitude or consciously assimilate a behavior and internalize to deal with the problem. Effectively stated by Epictetus on Walking the Walk:

 

Don’t declare yourself a philosopher or talk about all your principles; walk the walk instead. 

At dinner, don’t discourse on the proper way to eat. Just eat.

Here’s how Socrates did it: When someone asked Socrates to introduce him to a particular famous philosopher, he did it without thinking “I’m better.”

When the ignorant discuss deep matters, bite your tongue. Don’t vomit what
you haven’t chewed.

When you are told you’re ignorant and you manage to be unruffled, you know your practice is working.

How to foster advocates and loyalists?

Generally, people are more inclined to engage with brands that are truly invested in improving social issues. They establish a meaningful connection when the brand’s voice provokes a conversation, signals ethical standards or involves their audience into cause activism. According to 2017 Edelman Earned Brand Study: ” Fifty-seven percent of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand solely because of its position on a social or political issue”. This means that a brand can prompt haters or possibly harness advocates by manifesting a point of view, taking a political stand or starting a dialogue.

For that reason, tapping into the subconscious of the belief-driven audience fosters loyalists.  On that account, how to connect in a meaningful way?  By creating:

  • Personal and relatable contents
  • Provoking a conversation
  • Activating sustainable solutions
  • Engaging your audience in shaping the social movement

Remarkably, each and every referenced approach that offers “empathy”, will be rewarded by consumers.

“People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Be mindful and remember that Homo Sapiens appreciate being understood. For that matter, recognize the hurt, the desire, the need or the joy. Get to know your audience, send the message that “you get them” and initiate a memorable bonding. Your platform as an individual, profit or non-profit entity is not solely about growing your brand but how to make a difference.

Consider the shaping elements of good storytelling as a starting point:

  • What: is the topic, what has happened or will happen: be clear, focused and unveiled the matter. Be attentive, the spotlight should be on the issue not on your brand but your shared values.
  • Who: has been affected
  • Why: are you taking a stand: acknowledge the importance of the topic and the impact. Avoid mixed messages. Ask open-ended questions.
  • How: can you as a brand and belief-driven audience feed the beast, get involved and have an impact. How to convey your message: contextually or visually based?
  • When: the development speed of news, an issue or a talking point is critical in your communication
  • Where: does your audience absorb information?

The underlying emotion of empathy rooted in your brand’s voice and taking a position in life, strengthen your authority.  Individuals with great personal branding such as Tony Robbins interact with their audience with stirring personal stories and the ability to understand their feelings. Brands such as Procter & Gamble, UNICEF tackling social issues or J. Crew blog post “How to get (and dress for) the job you want” are all about making life better for others.

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Procter & Gamble’s thought-provoking ad called “The Talk” acknowledges biases and the challenges that black community experience as parents.

Or “thank you Mom, Winter Olympics 2018” video:

Unicef’s campaign, “It’s on all of us to stand up and speak out to #ENDviolence against children. Recognize it. Report it”, deeply disturbs and propels you to act upon.