Errors of Thinking Affect Our Relationships

Errors of Thinking Affect Our Relationships

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Errors of thinking prevent us from forming successful and satisfying relationships and may even cause us to be aggressive and domineering. These errors influence how we interact with our coworkers or provide the quality of leadership for those we supervise.

Errors of thinking develop early in the childhood and shape a child's interaction with his or her peers and teachers. Depending on a child's environment and the experiences he or she has, errors of thinking may be modified or solidified in later years.

So, is there a problem about the way you think about yourself and others, or about how you should relate and act towards them? For example, it would be erroneous if you were to think that you should influence others by power and domination as opposed to winning their respect and persuading them. Persuasion always works better than coercion, no matter how clever and subtle the latter is.

Here are some more examples of errors of thinking:
"I must retaliate or strike out in some form or fashion against those who oppose me."
"I should be able to have what I want without any obligation or responsibility to do anything in return, because…(for example, I am 'the boss' or the 'husband' or the 'father')."
"I don't have to be accountable for my behavior because…"
"It's not nice to say out loud, but I am really smarter than them."
"When others blame you, the best way to shut them up is to blame them"
"The best way to justify my actions is to go on the offensive and criticize them."

Normally, we are not aware of our errors of thinking. So, you may be looking at these examples and saying to yourself, "No, I don't ever think like that." To make sure that you don't have such errors of thinking, closely examine your actions and feelings. For example, if you feel upset when you are held accountable for a choice or decision you had to make, perhaps, at some level, you do think that you should not be questioned or criticized for your actions.

When you examine your actions and feelings, you might discover what you were really thinking on the inside. We don't just do something or feel an emotion out of the blue. Behind every action and emotion, there is a thought. First, thought, then, action.

What about an impulsive person? After all, we define an impulsive person as someone who acts without thinking. The fact is that an impulsive person also thinks, but that thought may be erroneous and incomplete. For example, the thought of an impulsive person may be, "Wow! This is too good to pass up. Go for it, grab it now."

Here are a few more examples of errors of thinking to watch for:
"I have to be always one up on the others"
"To feel good about myself, I have to tear them down," or "The more I trash another, the better I look."
"Whether at home or at work, with friends or strangers, I have to be in power and control all the time."
"If you take your guard down, people will take advantage of you."
"This pressure is killing me. I have to let it out."
"When I get mad, I can't control myself. I can't help it. That's the way I am."

With the exception of someone putting a gun to our head and forcing us to do something, we are one hundred percent responsible for what happens in our lives. Whatever we do, it's our choice. We also have a choice not to do it. Accept other people's feelings and actions in response to your actions. Remember they too have a choice but their choice may not be to your liking.

I must often remind myself that I can get what I want without having to take it from them or hurt them. I can get angry but I don't have to hurt the person I am angry with. I am neither smarter nor worse than anyone else. The world doesn't owe me anything. If I support the world, it will support me.

If my emotions start raging like a storm and I shake and tremble with the force of my emotions, I should have the skill to calm myself down. If I don't have the skill, I should set out to learn it. There is no point of getting upset with others if they're not doing their best to calm and comfort me.

When I am hurting, I should be able to soothe myself. Then only I can be truly independent. The most successful and satisfying relationships happen between two independent people rather than between two dependent and needy people or, one dependent and the other independent.

An independent person, among others, should have three basic emotional skills: one, the ability to cope with emotions; second, to be able to soothe self when hurting and third, to be able to cope with loneliness and boredom. Without these skills, one can create a lot of problems for self and others.

Life is a comedy for those who think and tragedy for those who feel--Horace Walpole

E-mail a link to this article to a friend. 

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor