Owl Message: Thinking Traps pt.2

Ok! Lets pick up where we left off from Thinking Traps pt. 1 completing the list of 8 total Thinking Traps.

Thinking Traps are loops of thought that perpetuate behavior with a least desired outcome.

Maybe you are beginning to realize that you are repeating cycles in relationships with others (platonic or romantic). Maybe you find yourself frequently in the same situations with social drama with friends or at work. Maybe you find yourself regularly feeling a certain way, talking about it, justifying why you think and feel that way. This could be an indicator that your thinking keeps falling into "traps" or stories or ways of thinking that continue to perpetuate an undesired outcome.

As a gentle reminder, this is not a space to shame ourselves or others. This is a space to learn and grow. To recognize where we can better our self through practicing self-awareness. The more that we understand our self, the more we can understand others.

5: Externalizing- ( the opposite of Personalizing) Something/someone else is always to blame for adversity. This style protects the person’s self-esteem and keeps self-doubt at bay by diverting responsibility onto others. To climb out we must learn to take responsibility for our actions and make it right. The key difference between Guilt and Shame is that guilt says, "I did a bad thing so I need to make it right". Shame says, "I did a bad thing, therefore I AM bad". The mistake or bad behavior gets internalized as a flaw of the core being of the person. So, we have to allow others to make their mistakes right, and we also must give our self permission to make our own mistakes right so that we can fully move on. Shame keeps us stuck, guilt allows us to move forward by correcting and learning.

6: Overgeneralizing- makes “always” and “never” explanations about self or adversity. Can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy if person begins to withdraw because of feeling discouraged by tickertape thought process. In this type of thinking trap you will find thoughts that assassinate your own character and the character of others.

To climb out of think thinking trap find several possible explanations. Ask yourself, “Is there a behavior-either mine or someone else’s-that could have caused this problem?“

7: Mind Reading- either assumes what someone else is thinking or expecting others to read their mind. Usually pops up along side with Jumping to Conclusions.

To climb out develop intelligent intuition- mindfulness, broaden perceptions. Work on maintaining a centered calmness and learn to look for positive intent to other’s actions. For when you assume people should know what you want, slow down, others are not in your thoughts- direct communication is necessary. Be your own advocate and don’t make assumptions. Make sure you are directly communicating your thoughts, needs, and reasonable expectations. If the person disregards your requests after your assertive communication, then you are dealing with someone who doesn't respect your or is too fearful to take action. In either case, you must protect what is best for you.

8: Emotional Reasoning- our interpretation of a situation is clouded by strong feelings. Also the beginning of a snowball effect- if an employee was depressed about their divorce, they may perceive adversity in more situations. They may feel embarrassed by their inability to cope with their personal life and may start negatively comparing self to others leading to feelings of jealousy or depression.

To climb out of this thinking trap practice mindfulness - observing your thoughts- to learn to understand the original emotional response. This will help keep this thinking trap in perspective. Following your thought trail down to the root belief (ex: "no one loves me", "I am worthless", "People keep leaving me", "I'm not enough") will show us WHY we perceive a certain narrative within each adversity. Once we know the cause we can find the solution. Our intention is to avoid similar adversities in future and/or rectify current one.

Moving forward, gently, with infinite grace, begin to identify which Thinking Traps you find yourself falling into at times and practice using the tools to climb out of them. Our soul's spiritual evolution takes a whole life time upon many more life times, so know that you do not have to be perfect especially in the beginning. Take baby steps each day and over the years you will see a steady improvement in your mental health and your relationships.

As always, reach out for help or if you have any questions.


Resource: The Resilience Factor, by Karen Reivich, Ph.D & Andrew Shatte, Ph.D

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