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Are you making these common thought errors?

Some of the most pervasive thought errors I have found people bring to coaching sessions also happen to be ones they believe are unique to them.


They are things like:

·      This should be happening quicker

·      I should know better

·      I am not good enough


Do any of these sound familiar?


But when was the last time you thought something like this and countered it with something along the lines of “Well, that’s a pretty normal thing to be thinking…”?  The problem for most of us is when our brains throw out these soundbites, we think they are terribly important information we must act on.  OR ELSE. This is what I call a thought error - it is your brain trying to trick you with an old story without checking out the facts.


The common thread here is that all of them involve criticising yourself in the hope that you will feel better.  Which sounds like skewed logic, doesn’t it?  But come with me.


Most of us are brought up to believe we should not be too gentle with ourselves or we will stop and never achieve anything.  What we must set is high standards, big goals and a smart work ethic and not be lazy or slovenly or dilly dally, or we’ll get overtaken by all the people who are better than us.  And where do those messages come from?  And does adult, rational you believe them now?  Do you like them?  Would you say these things to a kid (which is probably where most of us picked up these messages)?


Yet most of us have internalised them as we were taught to believe that if we did not abide by this code, then we would be left behind (which your brain reads as DANGER!).  Often, when we have absorbed these messages from a young age, it is not always easy to zoom out and go, “Hang on – do I actually believe that?”  or to cut to the core “, Do I like the way it makes me feel when I think that?”.


Because if not, we can change it.  It’s important to remember we have options.  What links all of these self-critical thoughts together is the underlying premise that we are getting things wrong now, and if we could just do things differently, then we would feel better.  But if we are hauling along these old structures of judgement with us, when we do something different, or more quickly, or improve something, we rapidly find that we are bringing along the same critical voices.


The way we change the way we feel about things is not to try and bully ourselves into unachievably high standards all the time (and if you don’t believe me – have you tried it?  It feels dreadful) – it is to neutralise the negative narrative by reminder yourself this is a perfectly human way to be responding to human things.


And when we have stripped things down to the base level here, we can begin to look at what our hearts truly want to build.

A black woman in an orange hat


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