Despite that catchy title, there is no right or wrong way of thinking. What there is, on the other hand, is a better way of thinking. A healthier way.
Rational vs. Irrational
Think of it as a cartoon, irrational thinking is the devil on the shoulder and rational the angel. Rational thinking is when you think using facts and stick to what you know. Irrational thinking is thoughts that are not supported by facts and what I like to call emotional thinking. We all do it. No one article can stop us from doing it either, it is kind of in our nature.
What does it mean for us?
For us, it impacts our lives on a daily basis. The way we think affects a lot more than our thoughts. Our mood, anxiety, energy. The more you can think rationally, the better your chances of achieving what it is you desire. Rational beliefs require, sticking to facts and things you know. Staying in control of what you can. It is self-love.
Thinking irrationally is more along the lines of, it should be this way, it should happen like this. Trying to change outcomes of situations that are entirely out of your control. It is unrealistic to think you can control every situation. You are letting your emotions do the thinking for you.
Think of math, a rational number makes sense while irrational numbers are complicated.
Why do we do it?
This is entirely my opinion but, I believe we lean towards irrational thinking because it is easier. We can create our own scenarios whilst completely ignoring the facts. It is simple to think negatively. It comes naturally to us all. Thinking objectively and rationally requires immense strength to be able to use facts and not emotion. You must accept it despite what the outcome may be. It also requires a level of self-love to be able to admit that you are human and things won't always work in your favor. We often sometimes minimize the good in ourselves just to let the bad seep through. We as humans just tend to fear the worst. I'm no different.
Examples of Rational vs. Irrational
I deal with this on a daily basis, it is a lot easier to take the easy way out. I want to show you a few examples in my life when I think irrationally and give the alternative. I'm trying my best to become more of a rational thinker. So should you.
When I lost my best friend -
Irrational: It was my fault, I must've done something wrong. I always mess up.
Rational: Sometimes in life things just don't work out the way we want and that's okay. Does it suck? Yes. Is it my fault? No.
When playing hockey -
Irrational: I suck, I'm never going to get better.
Rational: I haven't played in years, I may not be at the skill point I wish to be at but I am improving.
Failing at anything -
Irrational: I am such a failure, I should just give up. I'm worthless.
Rational: We can't always succeed at everything we do. Things can go south without us being a failure and that's okay. I'm no less of a person because of it.
So as you can see just a few examples of situations where using our emotions to do the thinking will not help us. Using reason and sticking to what we know is such a healthier way of going about it.
That being said it is not easy to stick to the facts. As a matter of fact, I'm terrible at it (<--- as you can see Irrational). I should tell myself I'm doing my best to try and think positively but it so much easier to just say I'm bad at it. Every day we should try and work on it a tiny bit more.
How can we become more of a rational thinker?
Now that you have a better understanding of these two forms of thinking, how can we try and think in a more positive light?
This is all from my personal experience so there is no science behind it.
That being said the first thing you need to do is notice when you are thinking irrationally or even rationally for that matter. Take a step back and analyze your thoughts. Ask yourself, with this determination am I sticking to what I know? Am I thinking emotionally? Maybe even write your thoughts down and write both scenarios as I did.
Secondly, I'd say think of the alternative. So you have your thought good or bad. Ask yourself what the alternative to this thought is and once you've done that ask yourself, which is healthier? Pause and analyze your thought. Break it down. Is it helping you? Is it hindering you?
Lastly, just be mindful. You won't always be able to think rationally. You are human not a robot. Our emotions can overwhelm us at times. You may feel out of control. The important thing is to try your best to be present and stick to what you know. It's okay to have irrational thoughts. Don't be too hard on yourself. Evaluate your situation and go from there.
I know this post isn't as deep or long as my usual blogs but especially considering the times I think it is important to stick to what we know. Stick to the facts. It can be really easy to assume the worst. Let's try not to.
We won't ever be perfect, self-love and being kind to ourselves is so important. We can have all the love in the world and it won't mean very much if we hate ourselves. We are constantly evolving and our thoughts are the same. Try your best to stick to the facts and if you don't that is okay.
So next time a thought comes in your head ask yourself "Is this factual?"
There are two kinds of fears: rational or irrational - or in simpler terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't
- Lemony Snicket
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