We all know them. Those moments where you feel locked into one single negative thought. Your mind almost feels paralyzed, unable to begin to focus on anything else. These moment are created by what is called, “cognitive disruptions,” and can heavily influence your productivity and sense of belonging. This can happen at home or in the office. As we work through our disruptions, we are losing time to other valuable needs, and will begin to see ourselves as an “outsider.”

Here are three common types of cognitive disruptions that can show up:

1. Catastrophizing, or what I call the “what if loop.” This is when we go through every horrible situation that could arise, all with the worst possible outcomes. This sort of thinking can consume your mind and can lead to feelings of disengagement as you struggle to focus on other tasks.

2. Filtering is another type of cognitive disruption that can consume our thinking. Filtering is where we filter out any positive aspect of a situation, and instead choose to focus on only the worst information. This leads to a very negative outlook on life and work, which brings itself to the office and home.

3. Polarized Thinking can have a major impact on our sense of belonging. How many times have you reflected on yourself in a polarizing, “black or white,” way? You are either perfect, or worthless, an angel or immoral, completely right or completely wrong. These thoughts can affect self-image in a big way.

So what do we do about them?

1. Trust that you aren’t the only one feeling this way. Cognitive disruptions have been studied extensively because so many people suffer from them. Millions of people around the world suffer and you should never feel along, (or like you can’t talk to anyone).

2. Identify the thought. We often let the thoughts come as natural, which leads us to believe that they must in fact be true. When you begin to experience this sort of cognitive issue. Identify it, and then re-examine. You are often able to identify the faults in your thinking once you have identified it as an outlier.

3. Try the Double Standard Method. We often hold our friends and family to a different standard then ourselves, which only reinforces these cognitive disruptions. Next time one of these occurs, ask yourself what advice you would give a friend with the same problem. With one standard, you will realize how far-fetched your thinking may be.

Are there other cognitive disruptions you have experienced, or methods you have learned to use to control them? I would love to hear them.

Please remember… Self-Care is the Best Care. And Your Time is N.O.W.

Thanks for reading.