Distorted thinking patterns will destroy your ability to have a healthy relationship
. Distorted thinking involves angry thoughts that flash into your mind and make you feel worse. People tend to have similar thoughts that happen again and again when angry. Below are 6 examples:
1. Taking things personally
People who are angry often take things personally and feel hurt by it. They look for and expect criticism from other people. If for example someone doesn’t speak to them in a shop they may feel that person dislikes them, when in fact it may be that he or she is just shy or worried. If someone looks over at them they may think “he thinks I’m stupid”, when in fact the person is just glancing over without any such thought. Sometimes things
are just “not about us.” If someone is cranky and snappy with you, he/she may be having a bad day and not handling his/her anger well. It may have nothing to do with you.
2. Ignoring the positive
People who get angry tend to focus their thinking on negative or bad events and ignore positive or good events.
People who become angry often expect too much from themselves or those around them. If these standards are not met, then they feel badly let down and hurt. This hurt becomes anger. For example, Mary has a friend who had agreed to go on holiday with her but let her down at the last minute. Mary felt the friend had failed her and decided that she did not want to see her again. This was despite the fact that the friend was good to her on many other occasions.
The concept of “fair” is also a form of distorted thinking. You have probably heard the saying, “life is not fair.” Well, that is true, and if you can come to terms with that concept, then you will be much happier. The fallacy of fairness is the idea that there is some absolute standard of right and wrong. It presumes there is a fair behavior for all people, and all people will live up to those standards. What is fair for one person may not be fair for another. What is fair is a totally subjective judgment depending on what each person wants, needs, or expects in a situation. Being “fair” then would be satisfying each person’s own needs, whether they are the same or different from our own.
5. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
This tendency to draw negative conclusions about life from isolated events and then see the world through those conclusions, can lead to self-fulfilling prophesies. These are pessimistic, cynical, and defeatist conclusions that can make themselves come true. For example, a waiter gets three lousy tips in a row and thinks, “All my customers tonight are bad tippers.” Even three bad tippers in a row is statistically not significant enough to pass judgment all customers, but the waiter’s brain sees a pattern and then makes a conclusion. He over-generalizes it to all the people he serves and is completely convinced he will have a night of bad tips. So what does he do? He gives up the fight. He becomes pessimistic, defeated, cynical, at least for the rest of the night. He doesn’t try to give good service because it doesn’t matter. He’s going to get a lousy tip no matter what he does. Why try? And sure enough, people are not at all impressed with his half-hearted service and tip him badly. His own negative conclusion has become a reality, brought into being by his thinking that a few bad apples will spoil the bunch.
6. Black and white thinking
Thinking in black and white, all or nothing terms is common in people who get very angry. This is particularly a problem when it comes to knowing how firm to be with people. For example, John has a friend Paul who had borrowed money from him. John was quite happy to offer this loan and thought, “Paul is a good mate; I know I can trust him”. Paul has not offered to repay it after two weeks and John, who didn’t like to mention it, has begun to think, “He is taking a lend, he thinks I’m a soft touch, an idiot”. He becomes angry and the next time he sees Paul he begins to shout and make threats about what he will do if the money is not repaid, immediately. He thinks: “If I don’t show him, he’ll take me for a ride”. It might have been better for both, if John had taken a middle approach and firmly asked Paul to repay the money earlier, rather than saying nothing or becoming very angry.