Your perceptions on things help you determine your choices in life, and how you to react to situations. Healthy perception is obviously very important; however, it can be clouded by thought errors—misguided styles of thinking. The first step in avoiding misguided styles of thinking, or to overcome them, is to identify them. Below are three examples of common thinking errors.
- Overgeneralization. For example, a violent dog wearing a blue shirt comes and bites you. Henceforth, you are now scared of all dogs and dogs in blue shirts, and believe they will all bite you. Your perception is now clouded by a past event that now dictates everything remotely similar to this past event, believing it will always happen again with things that are similar to this event. Overgeneralization is taking an opinion or fact on one thing, and then generalizing it to its entire population. This can be done with facts, humans, and even objects. For example, “a girl with blonde hair was mean to me in the 6th grade therefore all girls with blonde hair are mean.” Or, “I read somewhere that a politician from a large country stole money. All politicians are thieves.” Or, “I bought a chair from IKEA online two months ago and when I received it, it was damaged. I’m sure all their other products are bad quality too.” These are all errors in thinking. Everything is not the same, nor is everything doomed to happen again in the same way. Things change, people change, products evolve, and etc.
- Assumption. According to a perception centered on assumption, things will always happen a certain way. This style of thinking is generally fueled by the past and a conclusion that the thinker is fixated on for whatever reason. For example, someone assuming they will fail before even trying because someone else has already failed while trying.
- “It’s all about me.” This perception sees everything about life happening around them because of them. They believe they are the cause, and solution, for everything. This is not true. Many things are in your control, but there are an equal, if not more, amount of things that are outside of your control. You do not control everything, nor does everything control you. You are not entirely at the hands of your environment, nor is it entirely at the hands of you.