One of the things that I love best about life coaching is the way the inquiry process shines the light of awareness into our habits, shadowed feelings and needs and distorted ways of thinking. I came across this very helpful list of the different ways our brains distort our reality. Here is my own interpretation of each fallacy. Click the link above to view the original article.
1. Filtering: Focusing more on the negative than the positive, thus magnifying the impact of the negative. Seeing only the “glass half empty.” This makes you feel more hopeless and afraid.
2. Polarized thinking: Getting stuck in the extremes; black and white thinking. This is dangerous because it leads to increased judgment and perfectionism.
3. Overgeneralizing: Taking isolated experiences and basing your assumptions on their re-occurrence. The words “always, never, have to, should…” are the cues for this distortion.
4. Mind Reading: Of course you know what everyone is thinking of you! This distortion has you jumping to conclusions based on your own fears and projections rather than getting the facts.
5. Catastrophizing: Your imagination gets caught up in the “what ifs” and possibilities (and not the good kinds) and you lose site of probability. Yes, you could have Ebola…but more likely you have a bad cold.
6. Personalizing: Allowing your sense of personal value and worth to be measured by your interactions with others and their reaction to you. Getting caught up in unhelpful comparisons.
7. Control Fallacies: Believing that external forces are in control of you and feeling stuck or like a victim OR believing that you are in control and responsible for others to an exhausting and unrealistic degree.
8. Fallacy of Fairness: Forgetting that “fairness” is subjective. Believing that your version of fairness is right and other people are wrong, taking advantage of you or don’t value you.
9. Blaming: Making someone else responsible for your choices and decisions and ultimately your feelings. Losing sight of your own needs and ability to ask for what you want.
10. Shoulds: Living by a rigid standard of what is right and feeling angry when others don’t agree. Or holding yourself to unreasonable rules about how you must be.
11. Emotional Reasoning: Allowing your feelings to have too much power. Believing that each feeling points to an infallible truth.
12. Fallacy of change: Basing your personal happiness on your ability to make someone else change (as if you really could…)
13. Global labeling: Sexism, Racism and other misguided ways of seeing yourself or others based on stereotypes.
14. Being right: You must prove yourself at all cost, even risking happiness and relationships. Not willing to see other points of view.
15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: Believing that all your self sacrifice will someday pay off…leading to resentment and depletion.
As human beings, we can all relate to these distortions. The ability to recognize and bring awareness to these fallacies so will shift them rather than allow them to trick you!