Jumping to conclusions is one of the most common forms of negative thinking. The problem with this type of a cognitive distortion is that conclusions are in most cases negative; catastrophically negative.
You usually jump to a negative conclusion without any justifiable facts of the situation or reality. In the next step, you start torturing yourself with how unlucky you are.
The “Jumping-to-conclusions” mindset is like owning a crystal ball that predicts only misery. If you had such a crystal ball , what would you do with it? You would throw it immediately away, of course.
So there is not a single reason to keep such a negative way of thinking in your mind. There are two types of cognitive distortive thinking where you automatically jump to a negative conclusion:
- Mind reading
The first type of jumping to conclusions is called fortunetelling. You anticipate that a specific situation will turn out badly, no matter what you do.
You convince yourself that a negative outcome is an already established fact. You arbitrarily predict a poor outcome for you. No other option is possible. Period.
When you jump to such a negative conclusion, you automatically become negative, depressed, anxious, sad or angry. Your mind is filled with negative thoughts that trigger severe negative emotions.
Consequently you suffer, because the outcome in your head is not the same as you wish it would be.
But what if I tell you that you very frequently jump to wrong conclusions. What if you’re making a typical fortuneteller error? You assume something will happen, but you only assume it.
You don’t know it. You actually have no idea whether your predictions are true or not.
Acting on a wrong assumption is the basis of all big fu*kups. And torturing yourself based on untested assumptions is the ugliest form of mistrust in yourself, life and your personal power.
Bad things do happen from time to time (even to good people), but not as often as your mind would like you to think. And even more importantly, there is zero benefit to giving yourself a hard time before having all the facts. Simply because you are probably wrong!
Let me give you a few examples of fortuneteller errors I made recently:
- I worked with a client who had some financial trouble. I was 100 % sure she will be late with the payment. I was even in a bad mood for a couple of hours because of it. She paid the invoice before the due date.
- I had a medical checkup for a health issue. I had a really bad feeling about it. I expected the worst. I was so sure about my intuition. Deep down I felt like the bad outcome is something I have to experience to learn from it. I was so moody for a couple of days before the checkup. The results of the exam were perfectly fine. But I was so sure.
There are many common forms of fortunetelling. An exam that you will fail even though you studied properly and prepared yourself, a parking spot that you will definitely not find, the new product that you’re about to launch and nobody is going to buy, the promotion that you will 100% not get, and so on.
With fortunetelling, you’re torturing yourself based on assumptions that your negative mind made up. It has nothing to do with reality, at least until you gather all the facts and get proper feedback.
And in 90 % of the situations, things that you worry about have nothing to do with reality.
Mind reading is the second form of negative thinking when we talk about jumping to conclusions. If fortunetelling is about situations that you falsely assume will turn negative, mind reading is about untested negative assumptions about people.
You assume people don’t like you, won’t respond positively to your suggestions and similar, even though your assumptions are only a negative construct of your mind.
With mind reading, you are determined that you know how others are feeling towards you, even if they never said or did anything to that effect.
In the end, you prefer to torture yourself in the negative belief rather than opening a conversation and figuring out what people really do think about you.
Let me give you a few common examples of mind reading:
- You assume that she will definitely turn you down, before you even ask her out.
- You assume that the client doesn’t want to work with you, before you even send an offer.
- You assume nobody will like an article you just wrote anyway.
- You assume that people are focused only on that one imperfection you have with your body.
- You assume that some group of people doesn’t like you and they make fun of you.
There are many other forms of mind reading. You believe people don’t respect you, that you’ll get automatically rejected or that others won’t respond positively to your needs. But the reality might be completely different.
You don’t know for real what others think about you until you ask them. From time to time, some people might just not like you. And there are always some haters present in everyone’s life, especially when you stand up for something.
But they can’t really hurt you, if you don’t let them. You always have the chance to focus on your supporters, and embrace and understand the haters. The only question is what you focus your mind on.
The ridiculousness of mind reading is that you make assumptions about people before you even realize. You have no idea what is the opinion of another person, you only build a negative construct in your mind to feed your negative thoughts and emotions.
You let your mind turn into your worst enemy. Wouldn’t you rather visualize positive things? Make sure your mind is an asset not a liability.
Why do people visit fortunetellers?
Fortunetelling is a big business. When your mind fantasizes about all the possible negative outcomes, you need to balance it somehow. You need reassurance that things are not that negative as your mind is picturing them for you.
Then you visit a fortuneteller and they tell you (hopefully) that everything is going to be okay, one way or another. And negative thoughts slowly fade away.
Finally, you can also see all the positive signs. Finally, you gain some trust in yourself and life. That’s why people most often visit fortunetellers.
They have a great mistrust in themselves and life, and consequently they look for external confirmation that things can turn out positively. That gives them hope, and hope is what fuels a positive outlook.
But having a fortuneteller is only a crutch with a short-term supporting effect. Your mind can go crazy again very soon and go back to dark interpretations of reality – by jumping to conclusions or any other cognitive distortion.
That’s why people most often need to visit the fortuneteller over and over again. To calm down their insecurities. And that can be quite expensive.
Consequently, a much better alternative is to slowly develop trust in yourself and life, build a superior life strategy, develop competences that match your challenges, and on top of that manage your mind properly. Once you learn to manage your mind, you don’t need external crutches anymore.
It’s time that you stop jumping to conclusions
You don’t need to visit a fortuneteller to gain reassurance in yourself or life. All you have to do is to make sure your mind is not a negative crystal ball that only sees misery in your future.
The best thing is that you can get rid of a big portion of anxiety and negativity, as long as you discipline your mind not to jump to conclusions. There are some simple exercises how you can achieve that.
1. Check the facts
The best thing to do, if possible, is to check the facts and see if reality matches the negative perception. You will realize that it does only sometimes, but most often doesn’t.
When you see the reality undistorted, you don’t see only negatives, but also positives in your life.
- You might get rejected from time to time, but there are many people who enjoy your company
- Your article might not go viral, but there are absolutely readers who appreciate it
- What about all the situations when you were lucky and found the parking spot before everyone else?
Check the facts if possible. And make sure you check all the facts.
Ask the person to grab a coffee with you. If you get rejected, find someone who is really your fit. Send an offer to a potential client. Send your resume to the company you want to work for. Publish that article. And so on. And do all these things several times before you draw any conclusions.
Don’t assume negative outcomes, if in reality you have no idea what will happen. Instead just do a small manageable step, gather the feedback and adjust if necessary.
Gather all the facts as soon as possible and stop torturing yourself with imaginary beliefs. Performing life experiments is a great way to manage insecurities and see uncertainty as a scientist whose job is to discover how reality really is.
2. Practice thought stopping
Every time your mind tries to take you to a dark place with a negative conclusion, stop it. Simply say “No!” straight back to your negative mind. Just say, “we don’t know that yet”.
Remind yourself that your assumptions are not based on real facts, but just on negative beliefs. Don’t let your mind to turn into your worst enemy. Stop it at the first negative thought.
In the beginning, you might have to do it hundreds of times daily. Your mind goes crazy and you say no. And again and again and again.
In the beginning, you have to be strong, and make sure that you don’t let your mind off the leash no matter what. You have to be strong and defend yourself and reality. And the reality is that you don’t know the outcome yet.
3. Remind yourself of past positive outcomes
An additional exercise you can do to reframe your thinking in a more positive way is to find proofs of how your mind was wrong in your past. Remind yourself of all the situations where you got a positive response, even though you anticipated a negative outcome.
A client said yes to your offer, a person positively responded to your invitation to go out, you got a lot of praise for something that you did, or things somehow turned out just fine when you assumed the worst.
Remind yourself that your mind can overanalyze things and focus on the negatives, and that you won’t let it do the same this time. That should absolutely calm you down.
From time to time, we all get some negative news, and in such situations you must act appropriately to minimize the risk and pain. But you need to get rid of the thinking that most situations in your life will turn negative.
4. Practice trusting yourself and life
The less you trust yourself and life, the more your mind jumps to negative conclusions. The less you trust yourself and life, the more you need external crutches that calm down your insecurities.
The best and most permanent solution to discard jumping to conclusions is to practice trusting yourself and life. You must believe deep down that you’re going to be okay, no matter what happens.
You must believe in your personal power that there is always a step forward you can make, there is always an alternative path to your goal, and there is a positive narrative to find in every negative situation.
Let me give you some examples of how to practice trusting yourself and life:
- List all the ways how you can adjust your strategy or alternative paths to your goal when you hear a “no” from somebody.
- Read forums to see what kind of positive things people found in tough situations similar to yours.
- Develop a new set of competences that better meet the challenges that life throws at you.
- Write down every single instance when your mind anticipated something bad based on false assumptions, and then the positive outcome happened. When you have dozens of such cases, you can slowly start to mistrust your negative mind and trust in yourself instead.
Unrealistic expectations – the other extreme
Constantly jumping to negative conclusions is a nasty form of negative thinking. It’s a very common way of making one’s life miserable. It takes some consistent work on your mindset to get rid of such negative self-fulfilling prophecy.
But while working on your mindset, you must be very careful not to go into another extreme; the extreme of having unrealistic expectations that everything will happen as you wish without any obstacles.
The point of dealing with your mindset and negative thoughts is to see reality as it is – and then accept it, build and follow a superior strategy based on it, and finally start living a happy and successful life by mastering yourself and life’s rules.
That means you don’t let your mind see only the negative, especially where there are no facts for it, but at the same time you also don’t sail away towards positive illusions.
From time to time, bad things do happen. Sometimes you do get rejected. Most often it takes a lot more hard work than anticipated when you go after your goals or try to learn something new. And there are always some obstacles on the path of life.
But much like there are obstacles on the road, so there are lucky breaks, progress and positive responses. Having realistic expectations and focusing on the positive, without jumping to any conclusions when you don’t have the facts, is the optimal way of thinking. Employ it!