How to Stop Blowing Things Out of Proportion
by John Cane
Thinking is important. Our thoughts affect how we feel and behave. Sometimes thinking can distort the truth, there are certain preconceived notions or thinking patterns we all use. Many people might explain these as thinking habits, as “normal” or “just the way I am.”
Blowing things out of proportion may be seen as ‘thinking errors’ or making a situation fit our habitual inaccurate belief system. How we sometimes react to things has to do with inappropriate learning responses possibly modeled through the behaviors of others. This article will consider some ways of dealing with ‘thinking errors’ and thoughts to offer a plan for making better thinking choices.
Balancing Positive Vs Negative Thoughts
Thoughts influence how we feel, and how we behave. The easiest way to change our behavior and feel better about ourselves is to challenge or question our thoughts—confront our thinking. This doesn’t just mean thinking positively. We can fall captive of so-called positive thinking just like we can of negative thinking. Positive thinking has its place, however it can also be unrealistic at times, self serving and useless.
Increasing positive thoughts to hopefully balance out the negative ones doesn’t always work, especially if some of the positive ones are not realistic; in other words, you may be fooling yourself and at the same time still maintaining the negative thoughts. The most effective way is to try and get rid of some of the negatives. Then any positive thinking you do is more likely to be helpful, real and effective.
‘Blowing Things Out Of Proportion’
Sometimes we expect that things will turn out badly. We might convince ourselves that our prediction is a fact even though there is nothing to support this. We can end up feeling and acting as if the future is true now. We may predict the future negatively without considering a variety of other more likely outcomes. A term I have heard used for this is ‘fortune telling’; when you think about it, that is what we do when we prophesize outcomes (a self-fulfilling prophecy?)
An example might be thinking, “I will be so nervous talking in the meeting that I will pass out”. Sometimes we amplify a current situation or an experience we had from a past situation. Sometimes the anxiety addicts have from withdrawal effects contribute to this type of thinking. An example might be, “I will never be able to stay clean or stop drinking”. They are more likely to use or believe this type of thinking when feeling depressed and anxious. Thinking this way can at times unfortunately fuel feelings and behavior into relapse.
New Thinking Choices – Dealing with Extreme Thoughts
There may be another way of looking at a situation. Asking ourselves the right questions can be a very freeing experience. Doing this can allow you to feel more in control. What would it hurt to try this out? Look at this as an experiment in thinking. You may open the door to new possibilities.
What to ask yourself when you ‘Blow Things Out Of Proportion’, ‘thought the worst’ or ‘catastrophically.’
“Am I only looking at the negative side of things or being one-sided and allowing too much for the likelihood of this happening?”
“If the worst were to happen, what could I do to deal with this, handle it or get by right now? How can I hack it?”
“What is the best thing that could happen? How could I benefit from this? What’s the funniest thing that could happen?”
“What is the most truthful or realistic thing that could happen? Have I thought of all possible outcomes?”
Try to get into the habit of looking at situations you encounter with a kind of traffic light perspective. It takes about three weeks to develop a habit to the point it becomes second nature or automatic to you.
STOP – THINK – CHOOSE!
Red = STOP
When you have anxiety or heavy-duty, difficult, strong thoughts, feelings or automatic behavior.
Amber = THINK
“Is my physical state affecting my thinking or the way I see things right now?
How am I thinking?
What am I thinking?
Are there any other ways of seeing this situation?
Really, what are my options?
What’s another perspective?
Can I think of alternative or different thoughts to feel better?”
Green = CHOOSE
“Which thought(s) seems to be the best to take you in a healthy emotional direction? Which behavior(s) seems to be the best or feel good? Can I make a plan to overcome my feelings of doubt? What would someone I admire do?”
I hope this article helps you out. Humans are a creature of habit. We can use this natural fact as an asset in creating change for the better.
About the Author
John Cane is a motivational speaker and writer who develops and implements confidence and self-esteem workshops in North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York. With a background in Psychology, John has six certifications in Personal Growth and Development. His Journal Books, ‘Important Things I Remember from My Parents’ are used in schools and as an aid for adults in gaining strength in self identity in the United States and Europe.
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