Are you jumping to conclusions?
A friend of mine gave me the inspiration for writing this post about how easy it is to jump to conclusions. In this case, a lack of birthday Facebook messages resulted in my friend (I’ll give her the pseudonym Rebecca) feeling rather disgruntled and unloved. What ‘Rebecca’ didn’t realise was that her mates (me included) had tried to post on her timeline but were unable to due to the additional Facebook security measures that she’d forgotten she’d opted for. Suffice to say we had a little chuckle over it but it did get me thinking about how easy it is to assume the worst without any real evidence and to allow our inner voice to cloud rational thinking.
Making sense of it all
It’s very easy to forget that our brain is constantly attempting to interpret and navigate the world to keep us safe and alive. However, it doesn’t necessarily wait to weigh up all the evidence or give a balanced view of things. Instead, we experience a barrage of automatic thoughts that come and go and that we accept or dismiss. Now while this is an essential safety mechanism (and we don’t always have the luxury of time to make a call on things) it can also cause all sorts of hoo ha in our daily lives if we don’t recognise thoughts for what they are…just thoughts and not reality.
We’re all at it
How often have you thought something along the lines of ”I’ve upset so and so…they don’t like me…they think I’m crap” …argh. The thing is, our brain is trying to problem solve, to understand what’s going on and it’s not put off by only having limited information. Rather than assessing the situation in a balanced way we jump to conclusions. So much time, effort and distress is wasted when we accept, without question, these automatic wild guesses.
How can I stop doing this then?
If a friend was to say to me some of the CRAZY shit my brain conjures up at times I’d at least question it or think “what?...that’s a bit harsh…what makes you think that…really??!!!” Start to question unhelpful thoughts by asking yourself the same thing. Where’s the evidence in that? Is this balanced and accurate? Is this likely? You can even put the thoughts in someone else’s voice to help you think of them in a different way.
Spend some time observing your thoughts - notice how they come and go. Simply close your eyes and see what happens without trying to change anything or respond. Just observe.
Not knowing is better than guessing
One of the best things you can do is to get comfortable with ambiguity and the notion of “I don’t know ”. For example the next time you find yourself worrying about what other people think tell yourself in no uncertain terms that you are not a mind reader. You simply have no Scooby Doo about what’s going on in someone else’s head. If you really can’t stand not knowing then be brave and ask them.
Accepting what pops into your head and jumping to conclusions is a bit like relying on an online “symptom checker” to diagnose an illness. If you’ve ever used one you’ll know that it’ll tell you that an ingrowing toenail could actually be caused by anything from a hiatus hernia to a peptic ulcer. For goodness sake never look up heartburn on one of these things…you’ll be in therapy for weeks!!!!! Lets face it most of us would go to the GP to get a slightly more accurate picture of the situation. Listening to our internal hypothesis about what happened in the playground or at work, without the facts, is no different.
I don’t know about you but I’m certainly going to make a conscious effort to avoid jumping to unhelpful conclusions. Instead I’m going to accept and take comfort in my ignorance – it really can be bliss.
If your thoughts are hindering you then get in touch and find out how Thrive Mums can help.