Irrational Thinking and How To Overcome it

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One of the biggest problems we have is the tendency for our mind to think in an irrational / unbalanced way. We see issues and other people through a clouded and fuzzy perspective. This judgement leads us to many problems, not least it makes life more stressful and depressing.

These are some of the common perspectives on life which are misleading.

Jumping to Conclusions

Often we jump to conclusions on a small fraction of evidence. Perhaps someone does not reply to our message at a particular point in time, we then project our own thoughts as to why this is. The mind creates a powerful scenario which we come to believe. Yet, our mental projections are often far from reality. To make things worse we often jump to conclusions in a negative way. The mind is suspicious of others’ intentions and we definitely create problems for ourselves by doubting our friends and relatives. We have to be very wary of jumping to conclusions; at the very least we should remind ourself our conclusion is likely to be wrong.

It may be unfortunate to be mistreated by others, but, it is much worse to have a suspicious mind

Black and White Thinking

We often come to see the world in black and white terms – either we are a total success or failure. Other people are either friends or enemies. The problem is that one small mistake can make us feel a total failure. For example, we say one wrong thing so then assume we have messed up a relationship with someone. On the other hand a small success can bloat us with pride. Life is never so clear cut; we have to avoid both the depths of despair and heights of vainglory. Rather than seeing ourselves as a total failure just see mistakes as stepping stones on the path to self-development.

Blaming other People for own Faults.

Often we sit in judgement on other people, but, if we were honest we would realise many of their faults we too share. We are not judging out of compassion but out of a sense of self-importance. The worst thing is when we do something wrong but seek to pass the blame onto other people – If  only other people had done the right thing we would been fine. This is just our clever mind justify its wrong actions. But, with this attitude we will just continue doing the wrong thing and create more problems. We have to be honest with ourselves.

“We are our own fate-makers. To blame others for the unfavourable conditions of our lives is beneath our dignity. Unfortunately, this act of blaming others is one of man’s oldest diseases.”

- Sri Chinmoy [1]

Over Dramatisation

Part of us likes drama and intrigue. We get a subtle pleasure from the soap opera of life. But, there is a danger in over dramatising situations where it is not necessary; we can feed negative situations and make small conflicts escalate beyond all proportion. We stake too much on an insignificant issues, often putting others on the spot to make decisions one way or the other.
Don’t take everything to heart – small issues will soon blow over – if we allow it.

Emotional thinking.

Emotions are fleeting. Anger comes and goes. Fear comes and goes. Our emotional state is unreliable guide to the truth of an issue. Many times we are relieved we don’t act out of impulsive anger. To really understand a situation, we have to see it without the cloud of emotion. Take time to see beyond a misleading emotion.

These ways of looking at life all share a common theme – it is easy to gain an unbalanced look at life. When we look at problems through a certain filter it is inevitable that we create problems and have poor perception.

To deal with this problem we need to avoid jumping to conclusions and be wary of our initial judgements. Before acting we need to test our state of mind

  • Are we judging with our critical mind or our compassionate heart?
  • How would we want over people to behave / think in our situation?
  • If we spoke out aloud our thoughts would we be embarrassed about what we are saying?
  • Have we taken a second opinion from other people we trust?
  • Why are we being determined to see the negative side of life?

Related

References

[1] Sri Chinmoy, Yoga And The Spiritual Life. The Journey of India’s Soul., Agni Press, 1971.

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9 Responses to Irrational Thinking and How To Overcome it

  1. Chris Cade | Inspiring 1 Million People March 23, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    The whole ‘black or white’ issue really resonates with me. I’ve been challenged over the last year with having a corporate job, and wanting to be pursuing my heart-based business endeavors (websites, writing, blogs, etc).

    One of my spiritual teachers said to me, “Instead of thinking of yourself as between both worlds… as in not a part of either one… consider the possibility that you have one foot in each.”

    That was really helpful to me.

    Lately, I’ve been really having a lot of fun with observing my language patterns in this regard.

    For example, it’s a real challenge to replace “but” with “and.” When I do this, though, I notice a great sense of empowerment!

    By shifting to an “and” mindset, we move ourselves away from doubt, fear, and inadequacy, and instead shift into possibility, excitement, empowerment, and opportunity.

    -Chris
    http://twitter.com/ChrisCade

  2. Kelli Douglas March 24, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    I love this!

    What really reasonates for me is “How would you like the other people to think or behave in the similar situation.

    This really helps me look at my limiting thought and clears it away, as it’s not really the truth and i can change the negative thought to a better feeling thought.

    Another question I ask myself before entering into a sensitive conversation with someone else is: What are my thoughts and expectations on the outcome? If its not positive then I don’t consider it my business and I don’t approach the topic.

    Helps me when I question if something is my business or something that’s not.

    Love your posts, keep up the inspiration!

    Kelli Douglas

  3. Arif Khan March 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm #

    Thanx for sharing such a great insight.. I’m gaining spirituality and pschyic under guidance. I’ve travelled across globe to find the very purpose of life. Even i’ve found the same problem regarding to it. We as an individual have an irrational approach to conclusion and hence we jump over to conclusion which often heads us to negative notion. And the main reason behind this is “black and white thinking” and so often we kill our own thoughts. Before we could even realise what we have done, it was too late to make a backtrak. When i have been asked how one can stop approaching irrational thinking is stop thinking, the mind has a common tendency to work for you but inbetween it does’t notice what it is doing for you. So stop waving with your mind and order it to work for you. Whenever i asked my client to make a thought matrix, they make it in such a way that they want to be happy in every second. They just went for white rather black thinking. Though it is not wrong to be ever happy but this is the very reason behind irrational approach to jump over conclusion and it makes the thing worst b’cause mind starts solving the very problem and then outcome would be your’s next problem over problems. And this has no end except a dead end. I would like to quote, the legend David Bohm, over complication by thought, i.e. “thought is constantly creating problems that way and then trying to solve them, but as it tries to solve them it makes it worse b’cause it doesn’t notice that it’s creating them and the moqe it thinks, the more problems it creates”. If we would take it as pschyic field of energy. Our thought speaks to subconcious mind of many others and this way we draw what we speak to this subconcious field.
    So think good and leave the rest.

    In love and light,

    God bless you .
    Tc .

  4. Davina March 29, 2009 at 6:14 pm #

    Hi Tejvan. I get most of this but help me out with this one, “To really understand a situation, we have to see it without the cloud of emotion.” How does it differ from “following your heart.”

  5. Tim September 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Will busying ourself a right way to overcome strong suspicious mind?

  6. Michael B October 20, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff lately, I think on the last point on Conclusions about reminding ourselves that early conclusions are likely to be wrong; They are or may be just that but if the mind see’s it and stops because they are wrong and tries to think about it as a problem then this would be counter productive, if the mind see’s it as a silly conclusion or unnecessary and keeps going (keeping awareness on wondering about this thing) then i find, myself, i can nearly straight away come up with an ah-ha moment.

  7. Julie September 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    This describes my 19 year old daughter to a tee.

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