Picture the scenario…you bend down to pick up the post on your doormat and that letter you have been waiting for but don’t want to read is laying there. You open it hoping that your assumption is wrong but no, as you read it your heart sinks…you didn’t get the job.
As you walk into your kitchen and put the letter on the counter-top that sinking feeling has quadrupled in magnitude and is sparking even more brain-bruising, character-crushing thoughts in your head…
‘STUPID!…how could you even THINK you would get that job!’
‘You’re never going to be good enough and THEY know it!’
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if they are ALL LAUGHING at you now!’
‘Stay where you are…it might be boring but at least you won’t make yourself look RIDICULOUS!’
You make yourself a coffee and decide that you are content to just make the best of things. After-all, you say to yourself, at least you HAVE a job…why rock the boat.
You spend the rest of the day perfecting your outward smiley persona…at least while others are around.
You go to bed and either lay awake for hours or you fall asleep exhausted from your mental onslaught, only to wake up again in the early hours and subject yourself to another pounding.
As daylight chinks through the curtains you drag yourself out of bed and make your way to the bathroom. Your chest feels heavy and you feel a little sick…you hope the shower will help you steel yourself for another day.
QUESTION: Is this you? The scenario may be different but do you put yourself down by jumping to conclusions?
I know that I have done plenty of this over the years and believe me at 52 I know that none of those thoughts has EVER made a bad situation good or a good situation better. They have only ever made things WORSE!
So why?…Why do we do this to ourselves? And what are we doing when we do it?
We find ourselves jumping to conclusions in order to reduce ambiguity in our lives. Decisive people for instance may be more prone to jumping to conclusions. We also do it in an attempt to protect ourselves and prevent potential failure in the future…thinking that if we don’t try we can’t fail.
And we jump to conclusions when our thinking is biased towards drawing negative conclusions with little or no evidence.
There are two main strands to jumping to conclusions:
- Mind-reading…where you believe you know what someone else thinks about you or something you have done.
- Fortune-telling…where you believe you know the outcome of a scenario.
So what can you do about it?
Well, if we take the above scenario we can identify the distorted/incorrect thinking and frame it a different way.
While that it is true that you didn’t get the job, the rest of your thoughts are pure fiction. There is no evidence at all for thinking that you were stupid to go for the job, that you are not good enough and that everyone is laughing at you.
Even if it was the case that you went for a job that was beyond your current expertise a better way to look at it is that you were stretching outside your comfort zone. You may not have been successful this time but if you find out the reason for not getting the job you will be armed with knowledge for next time.
Avoid using words like ‘never’. ‘You’re never going to be good enough’…what, NEVER, never EVER? There will NEVER be a time when your skills will improve and you will be ready for a challenge? Are you beginning to see how distorted this kind of thinking is?
And how do you know what the interview panel thought of you? Can you read their minds? It is a HUGE assumption that they think you aren’t good enough. There might be several reasons why you were not successful and one of them could be that you were equally as good as the person they employed and it simply boiled down to only being able to appoint one of you.
Deciding to stay put in your current job is closing the door to any further opportunities. You are for-telling your future with nothing to balance it out, like how you got an interview in the first place…there must have been something good about you to get you that far!
So can you see how these negative thoughts create anxiety and depression in us unless we challenge them with more positive alternatives?
Let’s go back to that scenario:
You bend down to pick up the post on your doormat and that letter you have been waiting for but don’t want to read is laying there. You open it hoping that your assumption is wrong but no, as you read it your heart sinks…you didn’t get the job.
‘Ah well’, you think ‘I knew if I hadn’t had a phone call by now that I probably was not successful this time’.
As you walk into your kitchen and put the letter on the counter-top you feel a little deflated but already your head is planning your next interview opportunity.
You make yourself a coffee and decide to email the company thanking them for inviting you for interview and ask them to outline the reasons why you were not successful.
You spend the rest of the morning working out a plan of action for next time and go out with friends in the afternoon.
You go to bed and lay awake for a bit going over the day’s events. You congratulate yourself for having the motivation to progress further up the career ladder and tell yourself that you can work on your plan of action further when you get the reply to your email. You sleep well.
As daylight chinks through the curtains you drag yourself out of bed, that bit is always hard, but as you make your way to the bathroom you start to remember the progress you want to make today. Yes, it would have been great to have been able to hand in your notice at work this morning but something even better is just around the corner!
To help you stay on track I have created a free Automatic Negative Thoughts Cheat Sheet to download just for you!