Irrational Beliefs – Part 3

The truth is that the universe naturally shapes our lives through different disruptions. Along the way, different events and individuals will challenge us and push us to unfavorable situations. And the changes will affect how we feel about ourselves, how we relate to others, and how we behave. Problems can trigger irrational beliefs called cognitive distortions. Here are another set of 3 irrational beliefs to be aware of:

Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization – It consists of making a mountain out of a molehill. Or, on the flip side, downplaying the significance of an event or an emotion.

A Magnification example is when an individual thinks that something catastrophic such as suffering a fatal heart attack, will happen. Or when athletes believe that they are inadequate team players because of a mistake.

A Minimization example is when you receive a raise, and you still feel not very good at your job.”

What to do: 

  • In both cases, write down your concern in detail, put into words your emotions, and challenge them.
  • Consider a core principle of Stoicism: “Some things are in our control and others not.” Such as sudden heart attack, illness, traffic, not being able to score a goal, the list goes on.
  • Remind yourself the validity of your emotions is reflections of your thoughts.
  • Keep in mind what you can control is your response and your actions.
  • Challenge your opinion with facts.

Should Statements – the tendency to impose a set of unrealistic or non-viable expectations for yourself or others. The should, ought or must statements indicate obligations that we cling on to, and generally, we get angry if they do not meet our expectations.

What to do:

  • Stop evaluating yourself and others based on statements that signal control and rarely make sense.
  • Adjust your statements to express your preferences, and, alternatively, acceptance of reality is sensible. This way, you are acknowledging that sometimes things are not how we like them to be! Hence, the situation will be less infuriating, and your response will be more sound. For instance, when someone’s actions are misaligned with your expectations, the statement can be expressed: “I prefer if you were more considerate,…”

Labeling and Mislabeling – When you reduce yourself or others based on one characteristic or an incident, basically overgeneralizing a situation, a habit, or a trait with hurtful and emotionally loaded description. For instance: “I failed my exam; I am stupid.”

What to do: 

  • Write down your thoughts and the language you have used to express your sentiments.
  • Recognize the double-standard method you used to communicate your feelings and the lack of compassion or a kinder behavior bestowed on a friend.
  • Practice thinking in shades of grey by rating how you feel on a scale of worst to the best. You will notice that many incidents or actions are not as extreme as we label them.
  • Define what does it mean to be a failure or insecure or any undesired labels?
  • Revisit the labels that you have applied to yourself and others. Talk to yourself like a friend.

Remember that not everyone can reduce or treat cognitive distortions by itself. At times, therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) is the best way to learn about coping strategies to deal with challenges.

 

Artwork by Antonio Mora

How to Improve Your Strategic Thinking

Alleviating fear of change and playing on what-if scenarios is what makes a great strategist. People change, realities change, perspectives change, preferences change, as Heraclitus famously said: “The only thing that is constant is the change.”

Visionaries don’t hold anything sacred. Indeed, they don’t classify concepts, people, or circumstances into bad or good files but look into the future and are torchbearers of progress without any sense of entitlement.

Great strategists live in the future; they consume, learn, and extract the essential to recognize the change wave. They assimilate the latest news across many industries that influence people’s social, financial interests, and behaviors. They can notice complicated cultural shifts and simplify the concepts. A good strategist builds a compelling narrative and generates excitement. Their rhetoric is founded in adaptation, remodeling, reshaping, a metamorphosis only what the future will look like.

Adopting this mindset is the most critical step in being a brilliant strategist. Develop the attitude; solutions will materialize.

How do you habituate this constructive view? 

1- Observe cultural transformation. For example, the institutions are no longer the authority. The emergence of peer to peer transactions in the financial industry to self-help and pursuit of individuality is the wave of change that will significantly affect the future.

2- Forget what has been and look into desirable possibilities. Ask yourself, what is my strongest point or the foundation of my brand that can solve many problems? Once identified, the additional assumptions will be removed and deliberately; our choices guide us to solutions reaching the desired possibility.

3- Observe actions. As our common truth changes, people’s attention and desires change. Pay attention to how people are spending their time and money. Building your thinking process around your observations leads to an effective strategy.

4- Develop a daily routine and incorporate technology resources for efficiency and an increase in productivity. Subscribe to daily analysis of your line of interests. Look into sub-culture news and controversial ideas that are infiltrating the mainstream conversation. Connect with people to share and gain different views and perspectives. Visit museums and galleries, follow influencers. As for efficiency, use apps to stream your social media, explore, and receive real-time news headlines.

On a final note, brushing past fixed ideas, listening attentively with an ability to understand and re-imagine the world are the keys to becoming a great strategist.

 

 

Featured image: by Meryl McMaster, a Canadian photographer whose best-known work explores her Indigenous heritage.