5 Unreasonable Ways of Thinking that Hinder Your Progress

5 Unreasonable Ways of Thinking that Hinder Your Progress

And How to Get Rid of Those Annoying Thoughts

This written piece represents a reflection, research, and also a reinterpretation of Joan Rosenberg’s article “5 irrational thinking patterns that could be dragging you down — and how to start challenging them”. Why have we decided to post such an article at ThePlagiarism blog?

We would like to help students to overcome any “cognitive distortions” that may hinder them from normal studying and having the best time of their lives. While frustration among youngsters is a common phenomenon, it has aggravated even more due to the global crisis instigated by the awful spread of Covid-19 and all the subsequent “normal-life-restricting” quarantine measures.

Knowing how turbulent a young student’s mind may be, we have taken the article by Rosenberg as an example of the most irrational thinking patterns that turn into grave obstacles on every path of self-discovery and self-development. This piece reflects our attempt to re-explain her tips in such a way that they will be usefully applied to all those students who are going through hard times, feeling depressed, neglected and abandoned, misunderstood and mocked, as well as alone and hopeless in this big unfair world.

Erroneous Thinking. Do We Have the Right to Call it like That?

Despite all the doom in the world you might feel, it is fundamentally wrong to say, “C’mon, you have ridiculous thoughts. You cannot think like that.” No one is more equal than the others to convince yourself to change your mind. Your mind is an integral part of you, how can you change it? Still, Rosenberg states that there are “irrational thinking patterns” and you should endeavor to get rid of them. The first thing you need to remember: indeed, your thoughts may be irrational, but it does not make them wrong. All in all, the whole path of your life you choose depends only on you. The second thing you have to realize: even if your mind does not wrong you and you have all the reasons to feel sad and frustrated, the excessive negativity won’t let you go further if you want to change something in your life, in your daily routine. On the contrary, even if you decide to remain a pessimist and nihilist (whatever), you have to accept this cynical position of the inner Schopenhauer in your microcosm and Do Not Whine About It.

Therefore, if you want to be on the sunny side, the rest of the article is for you! Let us discover the most annoying and useless thinking patterns if you want to become an optimist.

So, you are back in the halls, but isolation has continued, which means you cannot properly communicate with your groupmates and cannot encounter your mentors to talk with them about your problems face-to-face. If you represent an extroverted personality type, the lack of socialization makes you feel unhappy, irritable, and lonely. In contrast, if you are an introvert, you can be more adaptable to online learning, as you usually do not suffer from staying alone. However, your psychological types do not determine your values and attitude to life. Thus, it is erroneous to state that introverts tend to be calmer or always need to be alone, as well as extroverts can be absolutely happy on their own when they do what they like, when they are surrounded by the needed comfort. The truth is, those opposite psychological traits can be amalgamated within one person, so it is wrong to be radical about it – individuals are never the same. Similarly to the inaccurate perceptions of introversion and extroversion, there are “irrational thinking patterns” regarding various phenomena, including your own life.

Are You a Pessimist or an Optimist?

Are you able to evaluate your regular thinking patterns? Are you inclined to be optimistic or be pessimistic? Sometimes, you do not notice the extent of negative thoughts within your mind, but they directly influence your deeds and your general mental well-being. Try to answer these questions: How many times a day do you smile when simply thinking about people you love, when looking out of your window and enjoying the weather (be it rainy or sunny), or just being grateful for all the self-fulfilling moments you have been endowed with? Alternatively, are you skeptical about all those things that people typically deem “essential”? Do you frequently want to humiliate others, as you consider their behaviors, outlooks, and dreams ridiculous? Is Schopenhauer your favorite author? ;)

If you are laughing at the last question, probably, you have a good sense of humor, especially if you perceived it ironically. Logically, not everyone who reads Schopenhauer tends to be a cynic and pessimist, or immerses in the ultimate “denial of the self.” It means that every radical thought has a connection to a “cognitive distortion” based on prejudice. We cannot state that Schopenhauer is a negative influencer by dint of his philosophy or harsh rock music is destructive for your newly created neurons. Nevertheless, there are instances when such an influence played a radical role, which gave birth to some common stereotypes.

Does Negative Thinking Influence Your Life?

Apparently, if a person is constantly angry, grumpy, and unkindly, it is easy to assume that his or her mind is mostly satiated with negative thinking patterns. Gradually, your optimal way of thinking forms your personality and starts working as your positive or negative contributor that you nurtured yourself. The most dangerous thing is that people get used to both the positive and the negative. The more you immerse yourself in self-deprecation, the more unfortunate and helpless you become for real. The simple truth is that all your negative experience stems from the “cognitive distortions” about yourself. For instance, one person can be seriously ill but she does her best to keep bright in spite of misfortune, while the other one, who is healthy and lives in abundance, is incessantly repining at his unhappy lot. The latter individual created a make-believe problem and convinced himself that he cannot get rid of it – this is a vivid example of a cognitive error about oneself. However, you should not confuse it with a sudden apathy that comes to everyone at some point – when your self-esteem becomes lower, when you have no interest in socialization, when your job brings you only burnouts, and when your goals seem to be useless. Everyone can suffer from fatigue, but it cannot be a constant state of mind.

Now we are getting closer to the irrational thinking patterns proposed by Joan Rosenberg. We made her list consistent with the psychosocial troubles of students, but, at the same time, we kept her meaning and her purpose.

  • Desperate “All-or-nothing”
  • Elucidation: This thinking pattern is based on contradictions you create within yourself. It tends to be negative, as it does not allow you to feel free and relaxed in a certain situation. Typically, we cannot say that “this person is the worst best version of himself”, and we cannot be compelling and tedious at the same time. When you think about someone’s appearance, temper, and ability, you will likely say, “he has a bad temper” but not "good and bad temper", or “he has a gorgeous appearance” but not "he is both cute and ugly". Beautiful and unsightly, clever and stupid simultaneously turn into grotesque perception terms that do not normally appear in reality. Leave such oxymorons for poetic oeuvres. Nonetheless, to explain the pattern of “all-or-nothing” thinking, the focus should be on Contrasts.

    Example: Now one sentence will make many of you recognize yourselves: Oh, I want to do it so much, but I know I will fail! At first, you think about your wish positively, but then you quickly assess it in the light of negativity, calling it “an impossibility and ineptness”, and you truly start to believe in your failure! For instance, “I know how to answer the professor’s question creatively. But I will not express this thought in front of my class, as everyone will think I am showing off.”

    The thinking pattern Transformation: You do not have to be afraid of being mocked, as a decent teacher always encourages every student to express their opinions at will. Moreover, assess the possible reaction positively. Instead of thinking that your opinion will not be accepted or understood, tell yourself that, despite the reaction, you will hold your position proudly. If your thought is deemed “too whimsical”, then you are likely” a smart odd one out” who is not inclined to imitate the mainstream attitudes. Transform your doubts into such reflections, as, “I am a strong-willed personality and I have the right to express myself.”, or “I may not be the smartest person in the world, but this opinion is completely justifiable.” The more positive alternatives you will find, the more self-confidence you will gain. Just remember: being too desperate or radical is never the best way out.

  • Overgeneralization of your mishaps
  • Elucidation: Even when you manage to minimize all the possible irrational thinking patterns, no one is protected against failures. Yes, sometimes we fail in those situations that are of high importance to us. However, you may fail once, and you may succeed twice, even within the same context. Our lives consist of ups and downs, fiascos and achievements, and thinking that “I will never succeed again” is not only an irrational thought but also an infantile behavioral pattern. All those generalizations about your inabilities turn into the “negative rules about yourself”.

    Example: If you are attentive enough, you will easily notice the overgeneralization pattern in your skeptical attitude towards your future achievements. For instance, when you do not obtain the desired grade, you may think, “I will never learn this subject. Probably, I am less clever than others.”

    The thinking pattern Transformation: Stop applying the negative consequences to the upcoming similar situations. Failures exist to help us reconsider our abilities and improve our skills. In certain cases, you can reasonably say, “This failure happened due to the specific turn of events, not due to my incompetence.”

  • Disqualification of your positive traits
  • Elucidation: This negative thinking pattern consists in depreciation of your personal qualities, knowledge, and professionalism. Are you being too modest, so that you cannot accept the fact that you have many positive features? Do you belittle yourself deliberately in order for someone to praise you? Do not reject any acclaim of your abilities. You know you cope with your work diligently, so you deserve some accolades.

    Example: If your mentor praises you in front of your classmates or other teachers. The act of self-belittling is expressed in the following thought, “This teacher tells it to everyone, as she wants all of us to feel equal, which is absurd.” The one absurd thing here is your downgrading of yourself when, in reality, you are a decent student.

    The thinking pattern Transformation: The disqualification of your positive traits can play a low-down trick with you. If you often say that you are “useless, silly” and there is nothing you can be praised for, people you interact with will start thinking that you might be a poser, that you truly know nothing. Underestimating yourself that much creates a wrong perception about you. Indeed, you may be genuinely humble, and it may be especially awkward to hear compliments about yourself in front of many people. In this case, your modesty is great, and saying simple words of appreciation will only boost your positive reputation.

  • Unnecessary Responsibility
  • Elucidation: This erroneous thinking pattern lies in perceiving yourself as a “martyr” responsible for every mishap. Even if you did not cause a negative event you witnessed, you can still blame yourself for some “inexistent failure”. Self-blame can be dangerous, negatively influencing your mental well-being. It can be further reflected in your daily life, so you might become afraid to take some steps “not to harm others”. You cannot and should not appropriate the misfortunes of others.

    Example: Let us imagine a situation when you had organized an important meeting and sent numerous invitations, but a technical failure occurred and none of your invitations were sent. All the Mail Delivery Error notifications went to the Spam box, so it was impossible to find out that something went wrong. As a result, no one came to the meeting. Before blaming yourself, you should delve into the problem deeply, scrutinizing all the possible variants. All in all, the fact that no one came is unusual, which predetermines a concealed error. Instead of saying, “It’s all my fault”, it is better to keep calm. You cannot predict force majeure circumstances.

    The thinking pattern Transformation: Trying too hard to seem responsible and productive in the eyes of others brings only the baseless pressure and unnecessary frustration to your life. If you are a professional, no one will doubt your professionalism. You can choose to be a regular contributor to inspiring projects, and your reputation will speak for itself. Sometimes, situations go out of control, but instead of worrying about the problem that already happened – do your best to offer reasonable solutions. Even if you unintentionally become responsible for the failure, accept it and do not bear a grudge against yourself.

  • The annoying “Should” statements
  • Elucidation: Psychologists advise to get rid of the internal statements that consist of such words as “should,” “ought to” or “must” at their core. If you keep on telling yourself continually, “I should do it, otherwise, I will fail. I feel discomfort, but I must… because I will not be rewarded in the end. I ought to complete this doubtful order, as my boss will fire me if I refuse…” Please get rid of this thinking pattern as soon as possible! It destroys your personality.

    Example: Imagine that your teacher gave an extracurricular task that seems to be not very enticing to you. Besides, you are exhausted after the long week of grinding away at your studies. Anyway, you convince yourself that you SHOULD take part in that activity, reiterating, “I am an excellent student. I should get involved in this event in order to show that I am enthusiastic and hard-working.” Oftentimes, such an enthusiasm results in horrible academic burn-outs.

    The thinking pattern Transformation: There is a great phrase that Rosenberg mentions and you should learn it by heart. “Stop ‘should’-ing on yourself!” There is an immense psychological influence behind the words “ought to”, “must”, and “should,” as they entail your inner constraints. You surround yourself with restrictions, narrowing your private space to the size of a “pinhole”. The consequences are: frustration (because you are not a robot) and fatigue related to endless high expectations. So how to expand your choices and demonstrate final self-respect? Replace all those constricting “should,” “ought to” and “must,” with “can,” “decide to” and “choose to.” Saying “no” in particular instances does not mean “laziness” or “procrastination”. You are an assiduous individual, who also needs to have a rest.

Stay Positive Even If “Everything Seems to be Against You”!

Hopefully, after reading about the irrational thinking patterns considerately, you will do your best to obviate those that tend to occur within your mind. It may take time and effort, but once you combat those irrationalities, you will feel incredibly free and resourceful.

It is much more beneficial to find and eradicate cognitive distortions when you are still a student and your brain is extremely flexible. Otherwise, there is a risk to turn those intellectual delusions into your way of life. Anyway, we believe that now you feel relieved and revitalized, being open to new exciting opportunities!


“5 irrational thinking patterns that could be dragging you down — and how to start challenging them” by Joan Rosenberg: https://ideas.ted.com/author/joan-rosenberg/

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