All the tricks your brain plays on you

Your brain takes shortcuts–but some aren't doing you any favors.

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This article was originally published by All Mental Health, a technology-driven nonprofit with a mission to increase access to cognitive behavioral therapy skills.

Our brains take shortcuts. And they can be pretty helpful.

When we see a stop light, we don’t want to waste time thinking, “hmmm…three lights…the top one is red…I’ve seen this color before 345,643,001 times…in this context it means…”

We just want to stop the car before the intersection. So, usually the shortcuts are helpful.

But sometimes they’re not–and we’re here to talk about those times.

When you feel anxious or down, it’s possible your brain has taken a wrong turn. Trying to take a shortcut, it got lost and ended up on a thought that makes you feel crappy.

Here are some of the different errors your brain could be making:

Black and white thinking Thinking in extremes–everything is terrible, it’ll always be this way, this person hates me (you get the idea…).

Personalizing Thinking that negative things have to do with you, when they could be unrelated.

Fortune telling Predicting a negative future, even when you don’t have enough information to tell what’ll happen.

Filtering Focusing on the negative, while allowing all positive feedback and details to be filtered out.

If some of these sound familiar, you’re not alone. These shortcuts happen to everyone. The trick is to notice them, so you can start shifting your thinking.

Try challenging your thoughts to wire your brain for success.

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