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Anxiety

Edith Pont

Ten Common Thinking Errors and How to Reframe Them

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Common Thinking Errors and Reframe

Thinking errors are negative/unhelpful thoughts that taint our view and affect our judgment of situations. When we are stressed, chances are we are caught up in thinking errors. These are patterns of relating and seeing the world. Most probably, these are patterns we learned since childhood. Therefore, changing these thinking errors takes time and effort.

If we don’t realize what patterns we are engaging in, then we cannot do anything about them. So, the first step in changing them is to recognize the thinking patterns you fall prey to. There’s a concept in the psychology field called a reframe. It’s a wonderful little tool that can have enormous positive effects in the way you see the world. I think a separate post for this would be best, but for the purpose of helping you change a thinking error, let’s briefly define it. In essence, reframing is a way to change your view/concept of a situation in a new light – to change the meaning. This takes tremendous mental commitment and intention but it has wonderful effects.

There are three steps to reframe a thinking error: (1) Recognize your default thinking error, (2) Acknowledge it (catch yourself), and (3) Reframe it in a more positive view. Following is a list of the ten thinking errors. Try to see if any of these are your default when you find yourself under stress.

Remember that these are ingrained patterns of seeing the world and yourself, so be patient. The more you practice reframing, the more you will see things in a lighter perspective. Change is not a destination, but a journey. Enjoy the process!

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking

You find it difficult to see the middle ground. You see things in two categories: black or white.

  • Ex: People are good or bad, trustworthy or untrustworthy, right or wrong, etc. Eating a spoonful of ice cream and saying, “That’s it, I blew my diet. I might as well just eat the rest of the ice cream.”
  • Reframe it: Imagine a third option in between the two extremes. “It’s okay if I had a spoonful of ice cream. I have a choice to stop now. I will refocus on my goal.”

2. Overgeneralization

You see a single negative event as the norm.  You speak the language of absolutes: always, never, nobody, and everybody.

  • Ex: In response to a bad date, a woman says, “All men are jerks! I’m never going to find the right person.”
  • Reframe it: Looking for exceptions to the rule. “This guy was rude, but there’s respectful guys out there. The right guy will come. I just need to be patient.”

3. Mental Filter

You dwell on a single negative detail. You tend to judge yourself, a situation, or others based on a small negative detail without looking at the entire situation.

  • Ex: After you give a presentation, your boss and co-workers compliment you, but you obsess on one critique, ignoring the positive feedback. “Why would he say that about my presentation? I should have prepared more.”
  • Correct it by: Look at the entire picture. “My boss and co-workers gave me good feedback. I will take the critique and do better next time.”

4. Discounting the Positive

You insist positive experiences don’t count by rejecting them. You turn something positive into a negative.

  • Ex: Someone is kind to you and you say, “She wouldn’t be kind if she really knew what I’m like” or “She’s being nice because she wants a favor.”
  • Reframe it: Recognize and accept the positives as they are. Challenge the negative thought with factual evidence (what you do know). “She’s a kind person. She may not know all about me, but she likes what I did.”

5. Jumping to Conclusions

You mind read are predict without facts to support your conclusion.

  • Ex: Someone at church passes you without saying hi and you think, “He’s avoiding me” or “He doesn’t like me,” and “You’ll see he will ignore me again next week.”
  • Reframe it: Look for other explanations. Ask yourself, “How do I know he doesn’t like me?” “Do I really know what he is thinking?” “He didn’t see me. I will make sure to make eye contact next time.

6. Minimizing and Maximizing

You exaggerate the significance of negative aspects, while minimizing positive, desirable qualities.

  • Ex: You made gravy for the first time and say, “The meal was horrible because the gravy was too salty.”
  • Reframe it: Choosing your words to get a better perspective and focusing on what did work. “Ok, the gravy was a bit salty for my taste, but I tried my best and everyone finished the main course.”

7. Emotional Reasoning

Your negative emotions override the facts (the way things really are). For example, a person will say, “It feels like this depression will never end; therefore it must be so,” or “I’m scared of flying; therefore it must be unsafe.”

  • Ex: You think, “It’s not safe to fly because I feel anxious. Something horrible is going to happen. I just know it. I feel it.”
  • Reframe it: Know the difference between a thought and a feeling. You think (believe) that you are not safe. You feel anxious. “My feelings are not facts. I don’t really know that something bad is going to happen. My nerves are getting the best of me. When I’m calm I will be able to think clearly.”

8. Should Statements

You tell yourself that they “should or must” be the way you hoped or expected them to be, instead of accepting things as they are.

  • Ex: When a friend calls you venting about her problem, you think, “I should help her. I must help her or I’m a bad friend.”
  • Reframe it: Look for exceptions. Question the validity of your statements (the shoulds, musts, and oughts). “Why do I think I need to help her?” “I am helping her by listening and being there. I don’t always have to help or rescue people.”

9. Labeling

This is an extreme form of all or nothing thinking, which labels self or others. These are unhelpful abstractions that attack a person’s character leading to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and dehumanization.

  • Ex: You make a mistake and say, “I’m a loser.” Someone disappoints you and you say, “He’s s jerk.” This includes profanity, “S.O.B.”
  • Reframe it: Look at the behavior not the person. This helps to have a wider perspective of the situation vs. scrutinizing a person’s character or personhood (or your own). “I made a mistake, but I can learn from it.

10. Personalization and Blame

Holding yourself responsible for an event that’s out of your control or blaming another person for the way things are.

  • Ex: “It’s my fault my friends didn’t enjoy the movie.” “My marriage is falling apart because my spouse is jerk.”
  • Reframe it: Look at what is in your control and what’s not. If you made a mistake, decide what you will do to solve for it versus finding more faults within yourself. Ask yourself, “How am I responsible for my friends not liking the movie?” “I chose the movie, but they all agreed to it. I didn’t write the screenplay.” “My marriage is not in the best shape. What is my part and what is my husband’s?”

What thinking errors do you need to address? I know I tend to jump into conclusions and have to re-group in order to get a clearer sense of the situation. Sometimes, I allow my feelings to lead versus looking at the facts and taking it slow. Most of us struggle with some of these thinking errors. Remember to practice catching the thinking errors and reframing them. Two questions to ask yourself are, “How does God see this situation or person?” and “What does he have to say about this?”

I would love to hear your comments. Looking forward to connecting with you.

For more unhelpful thinking styles in a photo format (for those that enjoy pics more than words), visit my Facebook page and check out the Albums under Photos section.

 

Edith Pont

Great Expectations

Ten months waiting for our son’s birth certificate and no news yet! We recently received court papers, noting our presence for the next court hearing, so I jumped to the conclusion that the birth certificate must have arrived. To our disappointment, it was just a procedure. The social worker mentioned no further updates and no calls back from the person processing the paperwork.

As you can imagine, I am full of anticipation. Our son has been in his forever home for almost nine months. We can’t wait for the adoption to be final. He is our son, no doubt about it, but not having the official papers weighs my heart. So many plans have already taken place… what the adoption day will look like, where will we go after, the decorations for the big party and on and on… But the most important anticipation is to be able to call him our son (at least in the eyes of the law). Our expectations are great.

Isn’t it difficult to wait for an answer to prayer? We ask God to answer and He seems to take time or we perceive as Him not answering at all. Although anxiety creeps in… I know that there is nothing that God cannot do. Track record in my life has taught me this. So, I remind myself, and you today, to keep your eyes on God while you wait for His answer.

GreatExpectations

Remember, there is no situation that God cannot handle, direct or manipulate to answer your prayer! Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:7) and all things work out for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

We are more than conquerors!

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” – Romans 8:37 (ESV)

We have great expectations that God has already worked out the birth certificate situation. His timing is always perfect. All is well my soul!

Whatever you are expecting God to do in your life – Expect it to be GREAT! Just keep your eyes on Him.

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NIV)

Blessings,

Edith

Rest in His Word: Read Psalm 42:5

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
 Put your hope in God,
 for I will yet praise him,
 my Savior and my God.” (NIV)

Heart Checkup:

  • What prayers have you been waiting on?
  • What are the expectations of God’s answer to your prayers?
  • Where have you been fixing your eyes? Take them back to God – His Word, His Truth!
Edith Pont

Diaphragmatic Breathing: Relaxation Technique

One of the greatest gifts we have is our breath. Yet, we neglect to cultivate it and miss out on the benefits. Below is a simple, yet effective, breathing exercise to help you improve your well-being. More to come on this topic, but for now, let’s start with the basics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVM8Ajy079k

For worksheet, click here: Diaphragmatic Breathing-Relaxation Exercise

Rest in His Word: Acts 17:25

“And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.” (NIV)

Heart Checkup:

  • What has been holding you back from taking care of yourself? Check for underlying beliefs like – I am not worthy, I don’t deserve good things.
  • Brings these to the Lord and be mindful to discredit them with God’s truth (His Word).

Click here for similar posts:

Blessings! EP

Edith Pont

Expand My Territory: A Lesson from the Fish Tank

When we allow God to use our territory for the benefit of another, He will surely expand it and bless us even more.

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling a bit insecure… As I sat in the waiting room of the spa, I was admiring a huge fish tank full of colorful fish. One of the staff members came to feed the fish and dropped food inside. The balls dropped all the way down to the sand. Immediately the big fish swam toward the food. I noticed a small fish that kept coming out from the protection of the ferns. It would peek its head out. When it felt safe, it would come out and take a bite. Suddenly the big fish would arrive again and the little fish would go back to its shelter. This went on for a while. Finally, the little fish was no longer afraid to eat side by side with the big fish. I was mesmerized by the behaviors exhibited in these fish. Now, don’t start thinking that I was psychoanalyzing the fish. Rather, the fish were giving me therapy.

God began to talk to me. No, not in an audible voice, but rather my thoughts took me to my feelings of insecurity; fear of the future, apprehensions about my capabilities, anxiety that somehow it would not be enough. I felt like that tiny fish – afraid to come out of its little cave due to the uncertainty that if I let another fish in my tank, I would fail at keeping my territory. Then, the first lesson came… I learned that although it may seem that the big fish were eating all the food, even the little fish were satisfied. God reassured me that there is plenty for everyone. You see, as the big fish took bites, bits and pieces of the food dispersed throughout the fish tank. The amount of food the little fish received was just enough for its size.

Then the second lesson came. The Lord allowed me to see (literally) how he was expanding my territory, but in order for this to happen I had to take the risk like that little fish. As the little fish began to take small risks, it practiced feeling uncomfortable around the bigger fish. Eventually, it was courageous enough to stay and eat with the big fish. I thought, “Although others may have big titles or may seem above us, we are all the same. What matters is how we live out our life for Christ.” When we allow God to use our territory for the benefit of another, He will surely expand it and bless us even more.

Today, if you are feeling like a little fish, I hope these thoughts bring hope into your heart. God is in control. He will surely supply all your needs according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19).

Rest in His Word: 1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.” (NIV)

Heart Checkup:

  • Write down the fears you may have and ask the Lord to replace them with His peace.
  • Are you feeling like a little fish today?
  • Why don’t you take small risks that will help you practice toward the bigger goal?
Edith Pont

The Serving Cow

All of us are called for a purpose. Somewhere along the way, we lose touch of the love and passion we have of serving.

Are you finding yourself tired and weary? Has your complaining taken over your joyous song? Do you find yourself judging others for what they don’t do or how they do things? I myself, have been feeling frustrated about my leadership abilities for the past couple weeks. The Lord brought me back to a devotional I wrote last year, which reminded me that I need to re-focus on what’s important; my faithfulness to God alone.

Read: 1 Samuel 6:1-16

Here’s a little bit of history – Israel had been ruled by judges for over 200 years. Eli and Samuel are the last of the judges. This was a time when the Israelites were far from God; sin had entered their hearts. Even Eli’s two sons (Hophni and Phinehas), in line for the priesthood, were wicked in the eyes of the Lord.

In our text, the Philistines attack the Israelites, overthrow them with a terrible slaughter (killing over 30,000 men). They take the ark of the Lord and set it up in the temple of their god Dagon. They keep the ark of the Lord for 7 months until they were visited with God’s judgments (plagues), which forced them to send the ark back with a guilt offering. Although they acknowledged they had offended God, something in them still didn’t believe it was God who sent the plagues. Could it have been plain coincidence?

All of us are called for a purpose. Somewhere along the way, we can lose touch of the love and passion we have of serving. Next time you find yourself in that position, remember this story and ask the Lord to help you examine your heart.

There are four key points I would like to point out to you. My desire is that as you meditate on these points, you are redirected to your Source (God alone).

1.      Check the Condition of Your Heart

Sometimes, we can get to the point of becoming resentful and bitter to do the things of God. Yeah, we do them, but we do them half-hearted. We need a new heart to give our best to God.

I find it interesting that the Philistines used a new cart to send the ark of the Lord back to the Israelites. This should be an example to us that when we worship God – anything we do – we are to offer it solely to the service of God. Do it for His Glory. We are to give our very best to God, not what’s left over.

Many times, we put other things before God (family, our job, activities, etc.) and we find ourselves too tired to approach God. If we do, we are giving him our left over crumbs! Check the condition of your heart today. Ask God to reveal your true intentions of why you do what you do.

2.      Take Action

Now, notice that they send two cows that had just given birth to calves and had never been yoked to return the ark of the Lord. I don’t know much about cows, but I do know that their instinct is to stay with their calves and take care of them as a mother would. These were busy cows. I’m sure they preferred to stay with their calves to take care of them.

All of us lead busy lives, but these cows became available to do God’s work. Many of us have an array of excuses as to why we cannot serve in the ministry: I’m too far from church, my kids… my husband… I don’t have the time, etc… Okay, I’m going to say it straight up; we are all busy! You are not the exception. But is God too busy for you? Think about that next time you find yourself tired and your heart has grown cold for the things of God.

These cows were aware of what they were carrying – they didn’t take their job lightly. Are you available to carry His precious cargo? – The Good News (that Jesus, His only son, died for humanity’s sin). You see, God will use those who are willing to be used. Now, if God used these two cows to carry His most precious cargo (the ark of the Lord), how much more can he use us to show His love to those in need.

3.      Focus on God

We read that the cows indeed went straight to Beth Shemesh. They did not turn to the right or to the left! God supernaturally influenced or led the cows to their final destination. Although we have trials and troubles, we must keep our focus on God – not swerving to any side, but focusing our eyes on Jesus. God will give us the strength to continue onto the path that He has set before us. He will give us the vision of where we need to go.

You see, when our hearts are centered on God, it doesn’t matter what others say, what others do or don’t do because you know who you serve; God alone! It’s not about you my friend – it’s all about Him! So next time you feel frustrated, you may have to re-focus your heart toward Jesus.

4.      Praise Him All the Way!

It also says that the cows were lowing all the way. I don’t know if the cows were Protesting saying, “But God my children are left alone, I must be with them” or if the cows were Praising God along the way saying, “Thank you Lord for choosing me to carry the ark, what a privilege.”

I’m going to say that these cows praised all the way. The question for you is… Which type of cow are you? The type that Protests and complains to God because of all the things that need to get done – OR the one that Praises God for the opportunity given to serve Him. Choose to Praise God as you serve Him and he will manifest Himself in your life. Then, when you serve the Lord Faithfully, God’s power becomes visible to the world and His name will be glorified.

Let’s not be whiny cows. Instead, may we be:

  • Ready to Hear His Voice
  • Be Led by His Spirit
  • Proceed with all His Power

Rest in His Word: 1 Corinthians 4: 1-2

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (NIV)

Heart Checkup:

  • How have I been unfaithful to God?
  • What can I do today to show God my faithfulness to Him?