Constantly jumping to conclusions can be a tough area to navigate: It is indicative of an error in thinking- a ‘cognitive bias’- and out of habit may become how we think in many areas of our life. This can cause problems that are internal to us as well as external. For example, we may often be jumping to conclusions in relationships we have. It may result in unpleasantness for both us and them and impact the overall bond. Addressing it is crucial and this article is intended to show you just way
we sometimes act the way we do and help you overcome it.
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Has someone ever told you not to jump to conclusions? Why? What would happen if we did so that someone had to remind us not to?
It’s most probably because, when we do this, we’ve formed our assumptions and judgments of the matter without the whole context. For instance, it’s like thinking you know how a movie ends despite only having watched half of it. The reality is that you can never be sure until you know the full story. When you don’t know this- but think you do- you can miss out on a lot of other information. These can be crucial bits of knowledge and can completely change things around. The smart thing to do before forming conclusions is to always know everything and then do so.
Jumping to conclusions is a type of thinking trap. More formally known as cognitive distortions/errors, thinking traps cause negative and inaccurate perceptions. Our thinking and reasoning abilities become affected as a result. With the ‘jumping to conclusions’ thinking trap, individuals make negative assumptions about something without necessary evidence to justify it.
An opinion is formed just based on what they know but they believe that it’s a fact.
Why Do We Do It Then?
Many times jumping to conclusions in our relationships isn’t intentional- it just happens. One reason for this is that the thinking pattern become a habit. People then find it difficult to stop this on their own. Another reason can be that sometimes people’s past experiences shape how they look at future events. For example, a person who has been cheated on before ends up jumping to conclusions that their current partner may be doing the same because they’re taking calls in secret and being vague about information. Turns out that in reality, their partner and friends had just been planning a surprise birthday party for them and had to keep things hidden.
One other reason that contributes is the presence of mental health conditions, namely anxiety and depression. They make it more likely to have thoughts of this nature. If you generally suffer from anxiety and sense your partner’s tone is different when talking to you, you might think they’re angry with you. This is unconfirmed but you still assume this based on what you know. Which is not the whole story.
The Outcomes of Jumping to Conclusions:
This cognitive distortion can cause undesirable outcomes not just for those who do it but others involved too. Jumping to conclusions in relationships can put a strain on it and weaken its quality. When we jump to conclusions we enter a negative frame of mind. Often, our thoughts affect our emotions. So we may end up experiencing a range of feelings such as anger, sadness, worry, loathing and hopelessness. This can put us in a distressed or emotional state which only worsens due to our train of thoughts. Chances are that we will have the same attitude until we know better. Therefore further context is what may help alter a persons state after they’ve jumped to conclusions.
Imagine the situation where someone is trying to contact their partner’s phone but they cannot because the calls keep getting declined and afterwards goes to voicemail. If for example they are someone who is often jumping to conclusions, there might be a likelihood their minds go to negative scenarios. They may interpret this behaviour as their partner avoiding them and that something is wrong. This will cause a change in their mood too and they may be worried, upset or angry for the rest of the time.
But what the person finds out later is that in reality their partner had to reject the calls and switch their phone off because they were in the middle of a work meeting! It had nothing to do with them and their reaction was uncalled for. Because they were quick to take what happened as a negative sign, their thoughts and emotions caused them anguish. Once they knew the full context why their partner had to act the way they did, the person could’ve stopped thinking and feeling the way they had been.
Subtypes of the ‘Jumping to Conclusions’ Thinking Trap:
1. “Mind reading”
This consists of assuming what goes on in others minds and how they’re thinking. Individuals will believe that others have negative thoughts and feelings towards them. However, they may not check how accurate their guesses are. They usually believe the assumptions to be the truth and react to these instead.
This form of jumping to conclusions can be damaging in relationships especially if there’s poor communication between partners; given that this thinking trap creates negative thoughts, if people frame their partners thoughts and feelings like this, they themselves will have negative reactions to what they think. It will create an unhealthy atmosphere in the relationship.
2. “Fortune telling”
Predicting that the outcome of something will be negative is termed the fortune telling bias. This happens even in though there is no proper evidence to back the assumption up. Even though people can’t actually foretell the future, they get caught in this thinking trap and engage in this type of thinking. They fail to realize that what they think is not reflective of reality. Instead it is a distorted version of it.
An example of this type of jumping to conclusions is thinking you and your partner might never get pregnant because you both have been experiencing difficulties conceiving. Sometimes trying and assuming how the future will turn out may seem like a good thing to do. By doing this we may feel that we can protect ourselves from disappointment and not get hopeful or optimistic but the reality of life is that we never know what our future holds. Things can always change. While it’s good to keep our feelings in check, it does not mean we have to always resort to negative mindsets. This can do more bad than good.
Jumping to Conclusions in Relationships:
We all have our own ways of viewing life and what happens in it. These ways are often shaped by influences like our experiences, upbringing, values and beliefs. Sometimes they can be maladaptive and unhealthy, interfering and creating problems in the lives of those who have them and the ones they’re close to. Errors in thinking, such as cognitive distortions, are an example and jumping to conclusions is one of them.
When we frequently end up jumping to conclusions in the relationships we have it affects a number of aspects, as mentioned above. Imagine a relationship characterized by this thinking trap. The partner who jumps to conclusions will constantly have negative thoughts and emotions towards things, which includes their significant other. This may reflect in their outward manner and cause unpleasantness in the relationship. Regularly having to manage one partners assumptions may eventually frustrate and tire out the other. The quality of the relationship will lessen as trust weakens and feelings like suspicion and displeasure become more common. Problems will often arise and the relationship will increasingly get more unhealthy. If the thinking trap is not addressed, eventually relationships will fall apart and end.
Tips to Help You Avoid This Thinking Trap:
• Be aware of your thoughts
Whenever you find yourself moving towards an unhelpful thought (e.g. – jumping to a conclusion) steer yourself away from it. The key is not to give such thoughts power over you and let them carry you away.
• Think about how it can affect others
Sometimes thinking about the impact your assumptions can have on others and the bond between you both might help stop it. When we jump to conclusions they’re primarily negative in nature. It could be something far worse than the actual reality of the situation. Jumping to conclusions can put a strain on our relationships and hurt those we care about, especially if they knew what we had thought about them. Engaging in this type of thinking can put our relationships and risk and cause hurt for many people including ourselves. It is not worth it. Just wait for the whole story.
• Get more context
Always try to get or wait for further information before you assume anything. Or try to think of the whole picture yourself- lay out all the possibilities in that situation which you can think of. Remember that it’s more worthwhile knowing the full story and then forming a reaction, than doing so with only half of the story.
• Look for evidence
Do you have the facts to support your assumption? Review if they are valid for the situation you’re in. If yes, then you might be getting somewhere with your thoughts. If no, then your thoughts might be getting the better of you and making you react without proper reason.
• Practice journaling
Writing down your thoughts can help you process them better by taking them out of your head (where you can’t view them in front of you) and onto a page (where you can). It puts you in a better position to judge your thoughts and identify if they’re problematic in nature or not.
• Talk to someone
Sometimes we can get in our heads and become consumed by our thoughts and the emotions that follow. Talking about what’s going on to someone we feel comfortable with may help. Their responses can introduce a new perspective on the matter. They can reason with you and give you an example of how you jumping to conclusions can negatively impact. This can change our view on the matter and possibly remove us from our spiral of thoughts.
• Calm yourself
This may seem unrelated to the problem however the truth is that sometimes we jump into conclusions when we get excited or panicky. It can cause our minds to race and leap to conclusions after whizzing past the facts or being impatient to get them.
• Check if your past is an influence
There’s a chance that what happened to you in the past is controlling how you see the future. Although trying to assume what can happen might give us a sense of control over situations, our assumptions are just opinions not facts. We’re not sure that it’ll actually happen so it may not be helpful to react as if it was going to.
• Consider professional help
Making changes about ourselves by ourselves has its difficulties. Sometimes it can get overwhelming and frustrating and make us want to give up when the key is not to do so. This is especially true for habits. Because of reasons like this it’s never a bad idea to seek out the help from someone trained to offer it and has the experience for it. Licensed therapists or counsellors will listen and work with you to overcome whatever problem areas you want to address- in this case jumping to conclusions in your relationships- and devise methods to help implement the change and follow it. Once you feel you’re able to do this own and they feel so to, you can conclude your sessions.
Jumping to conclusions is a common occurrence and happens to the even the best of us. What’s important is not letting this way of thinking take over how we look at things and affect our lives and the relationships we have. Like how habits are formed, they can be broken as well. It’s possible to address this cognitive distortion and move away from it. It requires practice and dedication, but it’s achievable. You can overcome it.
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