Have you ever experienced a situation that immediately had you revert back to a past experience OR jump to the conclusion of what would happen next? These are just two examples of behaviors we all go through that can tend to be automatic responses. The problem with these seeminly natural responses is that the reaction or thought about the situation is typically irrational or distorted in some way. What makes matters worse is that we tend to continue the irrational thought pattern throughout our day which in turn drives negative emotions around the issue.
In this article, let's focus on jumping to conclusions. These are usually negative predictions we conjur in our minds. For instance, you call someone's phone and don't get a response. The next thought may go to a negative conclusion of why this person did not answer the phone. Once you set your mind on the catastrophic thought, you then play at an entire scenario of "what ifs" which in turn heightens your anxiety about the experience; hence you may go on impulse to ring the person's phone again and again. What makes this behavior and thought process irrational is that once you finally hear back from the person, you are more than likely given a rational response as to why they did not answer your initial call. Let's look at one way to stop the spiral of irational thinking in this scenario. You can ask yourself, "Is there any reason for me to think negative about this person or that something aweful has happened in this current moment?" What you are doing with this type of question is fact-checking. Fact checking is a great way to bring us back into "reality" of how most things we are thinking are not rational. Jumping to conclusions is something I like to correlate to jumping off a cliff. It's usually the worst decision to make which will leave us with negative feelings abotu the decision to jump. Think any assumptions through to gain better clarity of any given situation.
Sisily Rainey, LPC