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It Matters How You Think

Updated on January 16, 2012

Our Thinking Habits Affect the Quality of Our Lives. HOW You Think About Things Matters.

There are effective ways to think about things, and ineffective ways. Using the ineffective ways (bad thinking habits) gets us into all kinds of mental and emotional turmoil. The purpose of this lens is awareness of negative thinking habits that diminish the quality of our lives.

If your thinking is more effective you will feel better and experience more joy in life. It works.

All text in blue boxes are by Lynne McTaggart.

Ineffective Thinking (or distorted thinking)

is thinking in a way that changes reality to fit your memories, beliefs, and fears.

1. Over Generalization - sometimes called Catastrophic Thinking

The Titanic sinking was a disaster, but it never signified that all ships sink.

One painful relationship break-up does not reveal a never-ending pattern of disappointment. One bad grade does not mean you ALWAYS have gotten, or will get, bad grades. One foot-in-the-mouth doesn't indicate eternal stupidity (only momentary stupidity).

2. Mental Filter or Filtering - Don't throw out the baby with the bath water!

Filters are generally used to keep undesirable things out while letting desirable parts flow through. But a mental filter distorts things. It picks out one aspect of a situation or person, blinding you to all other aspects.

If you play a piano piece in a recital, and make one mistake, and afterward focus only on the mistake, change your filter!

Thought Is Powerful

A vast body of research exploring the nature of consciousness . . . shows that thoughts are capable of affecting everything from the simplest machines to the most complex living beings.

3. Magnifying & Minimizing - sometimes called The Binocular Trick

Magnify: to see things bigger than they really are. Inflating something out of proportion.

Minimize: to see things smaller than they really are.

Negative results, or difficult problems, often appear larger than they are. Diminishing (disqualifying) positive personal qualities and experiences can make you feel smaller than you are.

A traffic ticket is not the end of the world. One tiny step toward a goal is a step that needs to be taken.

4. All or Nothing - Also known as Black & White Thinking

What makes the picture above? The white or the black? Of course, there would be no picture without both. Not to mention all the shades of gray in between the two poles.

If you see, or believe, something can be ONLY one of two extremes, you're engaging in all or nothing thinking.

It sounds like this: "I always flub-up when things are going well." "You are always right." "Every time I plan a picnic, it gets cloudy." "Nobody likes me." "Everybody likes me."

Bad Thinking Habits

become automatic over time and need to be examined

5. Disqualifying the Positive - also called Discounting the Positive

Umpires give the thumb to ball players that are "out." Certain things disqualify a player in a baseball game.

In the game of life, we too often disqualify positive evidence about our self or our performance. A game can't be played using only disqualifications.

On the Bookshelf

6. Labeling - Don't point that label gun at me!

Labels are good for differentiating things. They help us organize and keep track of our stuff.

But all too often when we label something or someone, all we see thereafter is the label, not what's "inside" or currently true.

He's dumb. She's a bimbo. I'm a screw-up. That narrows people and things down to one word and will color all our future perceptions of them.

Give first impressions a second, fresh look. Its also healthy to question the labels plastered on you by yourself or others.

Quantum = A Tiny Bit

Living things engage in a constant two-way flow of quantum information with their environment.

Human beings are both receivers and transmitters of quantum signals.

7. Mind Reading - How do you see yourself?

Do you assume the worst about what other people think of you?

If you automatically assume people think ill of you, you are "mind reading" without being psychic. What we automatically believe people are thinking about us is really our own belief about our self.

What others think of you is none of your business!

8. Fortune Telling - Look into the crystal ball

Some people are good at reading the future. Most of use are not.

If you automatically ASSUME you know what is going to happen because it "always" happens that way, you are a quack fortune teller feeding yourself false information.

(On the other hand, it is true that if you always do things the same way, you will give yourself what you've already gotten.)

Your Vibes

At the nethermost level of reality - the realm of the quantum particle - we are not separate 'things' but vibrating energy connected by a vast quantum energy field.

Even large matter in the universe exists in a web of dynamic interrelationship and constant influence.

9. Should-ing - Don't "should" all over yourself!

There's a reason why people say "hind-sight is 20/20." Because it is. You can always see after-the-fact what you, or someone else, SHOULD have done or said. Duh!

SHOULD-ing is like trying to drive a car forward with your eyes glued to the rear view mirror. I don't think they teach that in driver's ed.

10. Blame / Personalization - Are you lookin' at me?

Pointing at yourself every time something goes wrong is a bad habit. So is pointing at someone else, if the responsibility is yours.

Feeling as if you've done something wrong does not mean you have done something wrong.

Blaming others does not fool anyone, except maybe yourself.

A little humor . . . hope you don't MIND

A little humor . . . hope you don't MIND
A little humor . . . hope you don't MIND

Ineffective (Distorted) Thoughts

feel like truth, even though they're not.

Thoughts Are Powerful


The latest research has shown that the placebo effect does not always arise from a conscious belief in a drug. Alternatively, it may grow out of subconscious associations between recovery and the experience of being treated, from the pinch of a shot to a doctor's white coat. Such subliminal conditioning can control bodily processes, including immune responses and the release of hormones. Meanwhile researchers have decoded some of the biology of placebo responses, demonstrating that they stem from active processes in the brain. (from Scientific American, by Britt-Maj Neimi)

Its All In Your Head

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

~ Norman Vincent Peale ~

If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.

~ Henry Ford ~

In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true.

~ John Lilly ~

The most powerful thing you can do to change the world, is to change your own beliefs about the nature of life, people, reality, to something more positive.

~ Shakti Gawain ~

The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven.

~ JohnM Milton ~

The last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude

in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

~ Victor Frankl ~

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

~ Frank Outlaw ~

Not Grandpa's Science

We can no longer view ourselves as isolated from our environment and our thoughts the private, self-contained workings of an individual brain.

As observers and creators, we are constantly remaking our world at every instant. Every thought we have . . . is having an effect.


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