by Lea Sicat Reyes

Last week, we talked about resilience and how it allows us to move forward despite the difficulties we encounter from day to day. In todayís column, we will discuss some bad mental habits that will affect our ability to be resilient. These habits are called Thinking Traps because they are literal blocks that stop us from bouncing back when facing challenges. We will initially talk about the first five in this issue. We will culminate our Thinking Traps conversation week after next.

Thinking Trap 1: All or Nothing

This does not give any room for compromise. While there are some situations that you need to be black-and-white like, letís say, morals, in reaching consensus, we have to learn how to reach common ground. Letís take as an example a boss who is autocratic. He/She has but one mandate: my way or the highway. Employees do not have the freedom to speak their minds or give suggestions. This promotes stagnation. No one person has the monopoly of the best ideas. If we want a resilient workplace, leaders must give employees some room to breathe. This is the same at home. From a spoiled kid to an ultra strict parent, all or nothing is a trap that might break relationships. Just think of a child faced with an obstacle like not being able to get the toy that he/ she wants. An all or nothing trap would manifest in him/her throwing a no holds barred tantrum. Just think of a mother or father who dictates each and every move of his/her child. An all or nothing trap would manifest, unfortunately, in the childís poor decision-making skills. He/She will never be sure of himself/herself.

Thinking Trap 2: Jumping to Conclusions

We treat each and every assumption as truth. He did not speak to me therefore he is angry at me. Hindi ba puwedeng busy lang? This kid gets high grades therefore she is the teacherís favorite. Hindi ba puwedeng matalino talaga? Our team lost so we got cheated. Hindi ba puwedeng natalo talaga? And these situations keep on going and going. We form judgments based on our sometimes flawed opinions, not on facts.

Thinking Trap 3: Overgeneralizing

This is jumping to conclusions on overdrive. A woman gets heartbroken and she generalizes that all men are evil. A male boss thinks women are not his equal so he will never give any female employee a leadership position. A teenager is at the receiving end of his motherís yawyaw and he thinks his mother does not love him anymore. A child fails in one test and she feels she is one big failure. You got slighted by a person with a different nationality and you say, ďYes all _____ are racists!Ē These conclusions become our version of unswayable truth.

Thinking Trap 4: Making a Mountain of an Anthill

How many times have relationships been broken due to small things? The concern was actually very minute but it just got blown out of proportions because our view of the situation was completely different from reality. For example, a person says, ďHey, youíve got a great appetite.Ē In our minds, we think ďThat person is saying Iím fat!Ē Thereís a small snag in a program that you organized and itís like OMG itís the end of the world! If you go down this path, solutions will never be at an armís reach. Everything is magnified beyond control and its effect? Complete and utter meltdown.

Thinking Trap 5: Emotional Reasoning

Expressing emotions is healthy for any human being. Emotions out-ofcontrol? Thatís a different story. When faced with problems, itís so important for us to rise to the occasion and think rationally. Most of us, however, think otherwise. When push comes to shove, wisdom fails us and irrational emotions take over. When this happens, we might make decisions or say things that weíll regret. How many times have parents, in the heat of the moment, called their children names and told them the big L word (LAYAS!)? How many times have we reacted against a co-worker or a family member negatively without thinking of the consequences?

This is just the first part of this Thinking Traps three-part series. Next week, we will talk about the next five to be followed by some effective ways to avoid these traps in the following week. So, letís park our discussion right here. Until the next issue

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