How Twisted Thinking May Be at the Root of Your Struggle with Goals

By Cheryl Valk | Articles

Twisted thinking includes inaccurate and narrow-minded thoughts about reality. These problematic thoughts limit one’s ability to achieve goals, grow, and live coherently. When twisted thinking is neither noticed or straightened out, it can affect a person’s awareness and ability to act on what is true, what really works, and what ultimately matters.

Doomsday thinking is one example of a distorted thinking pattern in which negative aspects of a situation are the primary focus while any positive aspects of it are ignored. This can lead to having a mental expectation for the worst possible outcome, even thoughts of catastrophe. The mind operating with this pattern lacks the ability to see new possibilities which in turn blocks creativity and the ability to find solutions.

Another twisted thinking pattern involves delusions of control, blame, and change. When a person thinks they have no control, it can lead to a sense of helplessness which in turn can escalate into being hopeless and even depressed. If someone thinks everything is their fault or someone else’s fault, they are unable to understand the whole situation and limits their ability to positively impact it. This delusion can lead to a false assumption that if someone else would change, all would be fine. This category of twisted thinking can block someone from making valuable changes and contributions.

The third twisted thinking pattern is to decide after one situation that something similar is likely to occur in the future in the same way. Often this false conclusion is in the absence of enough evidence. This tendency for overgeneralization prevents progress.

Here are a few signs of twisted thinking:

  • Obsessive negative thoughts such as, when one negative thought leads a pile of them.
  • Excessive emotional stressful states such as, anxiety, fear, and anger.
  • Use of words in speech and thought such as, always, never, and should.

Here are three potential remedies to pull oneself out of a negative spiral of twisted thinking:

  1. Evaluate self-sabotaging beliefs and elect life-enhancing beliefs.

    Example: Transform a negative expectation for the worst outcomes by reviewing better than expected results over time. Believe you can make a situation better when you have the capability.
  2. Explore and expand what has value or adds value in a situation.

    Example: Talk with a trusted person about the troubling situation and ask them to inquire about any potential gains such as learning something new. Look for the silver lining in a less than ideal situation.
  3. Express what to start doing and what to stop doing that could produce a better experience.

    Example: Identify one small and easy task that can make a positive difference. Stop playing the blame game and start winning at work and in life.

Twisted thinking can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Often twisted thoughts exist without awareness of the harm and havoc they cause. Be more alert to states of untoward emotions and negative thinking to gage when there is a need to take proactive steps to straighten out twisted thinking. To achieve your goals and grow depends on applying your mind in helpful ways and straightening out those twisted thoughts.

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© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved