Thinking Traps

Thinking traps are overly rigid patterns in thinking that can cause you to miss critical information about a situation or individual.  Have you ever fallen into any of these traps?

  • Jumping to Conclusions (Believing one is certain about a situation despite having little or no evidence to support it.  Mental Cue:  Slow down.)   Example:  I fall into this trap when a situation seems very similar to one I’ve solved before in a specific way.  I act on the superficial similarity.  I know I’m in the trap because using the same solution fails.
  • Mind Reading ( Assuming you know what another person is thinking or expecting them to know what you are thinking. Mental Cue:  Speak up.)  Example:  I fall into this trap when it involves an ethical or moral issue.  I believe the “right” thing to do is obvious.  I know I’m in this trap when I use “should” about the person or situation.
  • Me, Me, Me (Believing that you are the sole cause of every problem you encounter.  Mental Cue:  Look outward.)  Example:  I fall into this trap when I am excusing someone else’s action by seeing them as a result of MY earlier decision.  I know I’m in the trap because I am assigning blame and feeling out of control.  I am trying to take back control.
  • Them, Them, Them (Believing that other people or circumstances are the sole cause of every problem you encounter.  Mental Cue:  Look inward.)   Example:  I fall into this trap when I believe things are black and white, right or wrong.  I am right and their actions are wrong.  I know that I am in the trap because I’m saying things like, “I should’ve known I couldn’t win.  It’s Murphy’s Law and the universe is out to get me.
  • Always, Always, Always (Believing that negative events are unchangeable and that you have little/no control over them. Mental Cue:  Grab control.)  Example:  I fall into this trap when I start to think about all the additional things that could go wrong.   I know I’m in the trap because I’m feeling unlucky and saying things like “no good deed goes unpunished.”
  • Everything, Everything, Everything (Believing that you can judge one’s worth/character based on a single event or believing that what caused the problem is going to negatively affect many areas of one’s life.  Mental Cue:  Get specific.)  Example:  I fall into this trap when I associate separate parts of my life:  getting divorced means I’ll die alone and be eaten by my cats.  I know I’m in this trap because I see only catastrophes.

What do you think?

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