I am discussing an interesting subject in this article – cognitive distortions. The field of psychology fascinates me; in my free time at university, I would read and study psychology textbooks. In business and entrepreneurship, it is very easy to fall prey to cognitive distortions. It is more interesting when you realize that cognitive distortions are usually associated with mental health issues such as depression. We all know how daunting building a business or startup can be. What is a cognitive distortion though? It is an irrational, often exaggerated way of thinking that makes one perceive things wrongly. Let us talk about some of them that you must be careful to avoid.
So many people suffer from this cognitive distortion. Many business people or entrepreneurs live based on fear – usually fear of the unknown. This usually happens when they are unsettled or uneasy about what lies ahead. Instead of anticipating a positive outcome, they believe a disastrous outcome is coming. This is summarized in two things many people grapple with – doubt or worry. Fear has been found to bring or manifest that which you fear. If you are afraid things will not work out then they will not work out. If you fear that you will not meet the deadline chances are you will not. The opposite of fear is faith – believing the best will come out at the end. Believe for the best and quit worrying or fearing the unknown. Most of the fears people experience are merely perceived and unreal.
This is a dangerous cognitive distortion you must be wary of. This is whereby in everything you focus more or solely on the negatives. This means you tend to turn a blind or downplay the positive aspects. As in, you always filter out the positives and pay the most attention to the negatives. The tricky thing about doing this is that it amplifies the negatives. Here is what happens, it is a principle you should take to heart – what you focus more or most on is what is amplified. It is necessary to a certain extent to take note of negatives as they may be issues requiring attention. However, do not overly focus on them to the point where you ignore or disregard the positives. This applies in life in general just as much as it does in business and entrepreneurship.
This refers to the tendency to think in absolutes. In other words, your approach to almost everything is black and white. Usually, this type of thinking is even based on once-off or just a few incidents. For example, let us suppose you roll out a marketing campaign and it flops. A person with polarized thinking will conclude that it means they are a failure. Instead of looking at that scenario in isolation, they blanket over their entire existence. Life is seldom black and white in many areas and as such you must closely examine when things happen. It is rarely A or B, either or – do not always think in absolutes. It is usually the midpoint where the actual reality or truth is found. If you do you will most likely miss the point or mislead yourself.
This comes in many forms in the field of business and entrepreneurship. Overgeneralization simply refers to using a single incident, scenario, or basis as a predictive basis for what will happen in the future. For example, you might come up with strategies that are based on borrowed opinions or insights. For example, you might hear or see some players thriving in selling certain products or services. You can then assume that if you do the same you will also experience the same success. Another example can be that you base strategies or approaches on a single premise.
For example, you can have a key customer who resides in a particular location. Then from that basis, you can conclude that there are more key customers from that location. These are just some examples but I am sure you get the point I am driving at. Do not overgeneralize! It is possible to generalize and only when there is a sufficiently large enough premise. Otherwise, if there is not and you generalize that becomes overgeneralized and it will lead astray.
With tenacity and patience, you can avoid or deal with these cognitive distortions all by yourself. However, at times, probably most times, you might need outside help. This can be through confiding in a trusted loved one to help you deal with them. You could even book appointments with a professional counsellor or therapist. In the long run, you have to develop a personal code of conduct that shields you from cognitive distortions. Transformation comes by renewing your mind which means it is about building the right mindset.