Despite the brain is the most perfect and most complex organ of the body, it seems that its work is not always perfect, and it is prone to thinking mistakes.
This sophisticated machine is affected by every experience and stimulus around us. The result is that our brain makes some thinking mistakes we are completely unaware of, which are called ‘cognitive biases’ in terms of psychology. These thinking shortcuts help us recognize impending threats and take quick decisions when necessary.
Here are five of the most common ‘bugs’ in your brain function that result in unproductive thinking mistakes:
1. You always focus on the negative side
Psychologists argue that the human brain is programmed to detect every negative stimulus around us. Our brain is constantly seeking for potential threats and when it finds one, it gets “obsessed” with it. This is when we become subject to the negativity bias.
The result of this thinking error is that we lose touch with an objective perception of the world around us. The truth is that there are both beautiful and ugly things in life, and no matter how dangerous the world may seem to you, there are, in fact, countless positive things in it.
2. You see patterns everywhere
A classic mistake in our thinking is the so-called Type 1 Error. The brain concludes that an incorrect hypothesis is correct, usually by making an irrelevant correlation between cause and effect. That is why we love coincidences! This way of thinking helps us avoid potential risks.
In reality, though, some things are just that – coincidences. While some things may indeed be correlated, it doesn’t mean that everything that happens to you or in the world follows some kind of pattern.
3. You cannot see what is before your eyes
The truth is that human perception is quite limited when it comes to what we see and observe around us. We often rely on our memory, and this greatly weakens the ability to perceive the world through our vision.
A phenomenon known as the ‘embodied cognition‘ describes the human tendency to be selective in perception and decision-making as a result of the biological processes that occur in the body.
It makes sense why life coaches and self-improvement guides repeatedly talk about being present. It turns out that our brains often struggle to stay connected to reality and actually notice what’s going around us!
4. You tend to avoid any disagreement
Our brain abhors conflicts and does everything to avoid them! Introverted people will agree with this more than anyone else.
For this reason, we prefer people and situations that are consistent with our thinking and reinforce our beliefs. This is the so-called “confirmation bias“, which makes us seek information that confirms our views and, in contrast, reject the information that refutes them.
For example, if you support a specific political party, you will most likely read the information that is in accordance with its standpoint and refute any articles or news that come from the party that represents the opposing political views.
5. You are too hard on yourself
We have the innate tendency to exaggerate our mistakes and faults, believing that others around us notice them. This is the “spotlight effect” as it is called by psychologists.
This phenomenon describes the person’s tendency to focus on their own flaws more strongly than others do. This thinking mistake is particularly evident in people with low self-esteem and social anxiety.
In reality, most people don’t pay close attention to the behaviors or looks of those around them. More likely than not, you are the only person who sees all those flaws and failures you punish yourself for.
Some of these thinking mistakes can mess with your problem solving and decision making, and yet, you probably don’t even notice them. The first step to combatting these unproductive mindsets is to learn to recognize them.
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