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How to Increase Mindfulness of Thoughts

Most of us experience common errors in thinking that impact our sense of wellbeing, our relationships, and our understanding of the world around us. Increasing mindfulness of thoughts and thinking processes can help us to overcome these common errors with ease and curiosity.

What Are Common Errors in Thinking?

If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, making assumptions that turn out to be false, or perceiving things in ways that don’t reflect the whole truth, you may be caught in misguided or narrow thinking. As this worksheet outlines, common errors in thinking include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Mental filter (similar to tunnel vision)
  • Discounting the positive
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Overgeneralization
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Personalization and blame
  • Labeling
  • Denial of change

Each of these are outlined in detail in the worksheet. Once we know what they are, we will be better able to recognize them when they arise. Here is one example of how this might be practiced in real-time:

Consider that you are out for lunch and the waiter who is serving your table rolls their eyes when they drop off your meal. You might think to yourself, “She is clearly rude, or she has a personal problem with me.” In this instance, you are likely jumping to conclusions. What you might do when you notice these thoughts arise is:

  1. 1
    Notice that you have just jumped to a conclusion about the waiter. What assumptions or judgments have you made? Do not judge or condemn yourself for this; simply notice what happened.
  2. 2
    Come into your body or into your breath to soften the mind. Let the tension of the situation dissolve in its own time.
  3. 3
    Then, see if you might consider other alternatives. What else might be going on here? Could this person be going through something difficult? Could you have misinterpreted something? Mindfulness of thoughts invites us to remain open and curious. Explore with patience and compassion.
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