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Do you ever wish you knew what others were thinking? Most of the time there is no way of truly knowing what someone is thinking, unless we ask. Trusting our own intuition about others’ intentions is important, although sometimes our thoughts can deceive us.
It’s a normal human phenomena to make conclusions about situations occurring around us. Often, our conclusions about events occurring around us are skewed or off base. This is the first blog in a series where we will explore the distortion referred to “jumping to conclusions”. According to Dr. Burns “Feeling Good Handbook (1989)”, “Jumping to Conclusions is a distorted belief where one attempts to read people’s minds, often leading to negative interpretation.” This negative thought pattern includes two subcategories; mind reading defined as the assumption people are always thinking negatively about them and fortune telling, defined as the automatic assumption that the outcome of events will be bad.
Cultivating false assumptions about others’ thoughts is the foundation of mind reading. These negative thoughts have no evidence bound to them and often have no logical basis or proof. Yet, this distortion tricks a person into thinking that these negative assumptions are true. This version of jumping to conclusions, mind reading, therefore causes one’s assumptions to be the driving force of their actions. Common examples include:
- Assuming that someone will definitely turn you down, before you even try asking them out.
- Assuming that a client doesn’t want to work with you, before you even send an offer.
- Assuming nobody will like an article you just wrote anyway.
- Assuming that people are focused only on that one imperfection you have with your body or performance.
- Assuming that a group of people don’t like you and they make fun of you.
Assumptions also fuel the distortion of fortune telling. The constant belief that everything will have a negative outcome can eventually influence how things unfold. When fortune telling, a person is their own prisoner torturing themselves with false assumptions. Some examples include:
- Applying to college and having the thought that you know that you will not get in.
- Assuming, “I’ll never get another job if I lose this one.”
- Assuming, “No one will ever love me if I leave this relationship.”
In order to set yourself free, working with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist can help provide effective techniques to steer your mind away from negative thoughts. Here are also a few ways to help you stop jumping to conclusions on your own:
Check the Facts
- The best method to help begin ending this thought pattern is to check the facts and see if reality matches the negative perception.
- In CBT sessions as well as on your own, practicing life experiments will give you a great way to manage insecurities and see uncertainty from a logical viewpoint.
Remind Yourself of Past Positive Outcomes
- Find examples when your mind created false negative thoughts. Remind yourself that past outcomes may be positive or neutral. Consider the possibility that things can go differently.
Practice Trusting Yourself and Life
- You must believe in your personal power that there is always a step forward you can make, there is always an alternative path to your goal, and there is a positive narrative to find in every negative situation
Jumping to conclusions prevents an individual from seeing the world from a neutral point of view. Remembering that these distortions exist can help you distinguish when a distortion is clouding your mindset. You are in control of your mind and CBT can help give you the tools to keep your thoughts rooted in reality.
Written by: Rudairo Segbeaya recently received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of San Francisco. She’s working as an administrative assistant and social media coordinator at Pacific CBT while deciding the area of psychology she would like to study in graduate school. It was co-written by John Montopoli, LMFT, LPCC, Pacific CBT’s founder.
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