The consequences of faulty thinking
So far in the attacking anxiety and depression: correcting faulty thinking series we’ve looked at how the brain works and thinking develops and how and why your brain makes errors. In part three I’d like to focus on the consequences of faulty thinking – how this affects you.
Attacking anxiety and depression: What are the consequences of faulty thinking?
When the short cuts your brain makes go wrong, you are left with the wrong interpretation or understanding of something. Imagine the experience of seeing someone from behind, being convinced it is someone you know.
You tap them on the shoulder and it turns out to be a stranger. That is an example of a short cut error that could be called faulty thinking. In this example you jumped to a conclusion without enough information to be fully sure you knew the person. If this has happened to you there is not likely any harm done, it was a mistake.
Sadly, many human error disasters and accidents can be wholly attributed to short cut errors. The human brain often misjudges the distances between things, miscalculates the speed of something, hears what it expects to hear and interprets something in an habitual way.
In fact it jumps to conclusions, it sees what it expects to see, it hears what it expects to hear and is imagines things that have not happened. All of these are based on scanty information and the application of rules that are no longer valid.
Sometimes faulty thinking can have catastrophic effects. And the same principles that underlie the faulty thinking in disaster or accident situations also happen in everyday life and can lead to very serious problems; leaving you dealing with depression and anxiety.
Attacking anxiety and depression: How faulty thinking creates psychological problems
You are equipped with the ability to be self-critical. Depending upon your life experiences up to this point, your ability to be self critical will be more or less developed. For many people it will be highly developed. But be under no illusion, everyone is critical about themselves to some degree.
If you experience times in your life when you are overloaded, stressed, burdened, confused, tired, unsure or unstable, then your self critical capacity is increased. At the same time your brain is probably working hard to manage the problems you perceive in your life. This is when short cut errors become highly dangerous.
When your brain makes a shortcut error and the outcome is negative, self destructive, depressing or fear inducing, you may not recognize it as a short cut error. You may accept it as a fact. This increases unpleasant negative emotions and depresses your mood further. Remember: if an error has happened once it is more likely to happen again. The next time your brain makes a short cut error you again accept it as fact. And so this continues until the shortcut error is automatic. You no longer question it.
The process can repeat itself many times with many forms of shortcut error. Your job now is to recognize short cut errors and bring them once again under conscious control; because only by bringing them under conscious control can you rectify them.
Attacking anxiety and depression: Correcting faulty thinking: