Robert F. Mullen
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“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the
pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI—deliberate,
repetitive, neural information.” — WeVoice (Madrid)
Cognitive Distortion #11: Jumping to Conclusions
Jumping to Conclusions is when we judge or decide something without having all the facts to substantiate our conclusion. It is also fortune-telling and mind-reading. We jump to conclusions when we assume to know what another person is feeling or why they act the way they do. When we form our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) we usually jump to conclusions because the only evidence we rely on is our fears and anxieties which are abstractions based on perceptions rather than reality. When we overgeneralize or filter our information to conclude “no one will like me” or “they will make fun of me,” we are ostensibly jumping to conclusions.
While our conclusions may be based on prior experience, assuming it will repeat itself in similar situations, while possible, is an implausible conclusion. Yes, we may say something stupid, or experience physical symptoms, but we don’t know that beforehand; we merely prophesize it will happen because it happened before. This is a common assumption among those of us with social anxiety.
Many of our other cognitive distortions are formed by Jumping to Conclusions. When we overgeneralize, we draw a broad conclusion or make a statement about something or someone that is not backed up by the bulk of the evidence. When we label someone because of a single characteristic or event, we are Jumping to Conclusions. Likewise, when we personalize or take responsibility for something that has nothing to do with us.
Space is Limited
A primary SAD symptom is the fear of situations in which we believe we will be negatively appraised. We jump to the conclusion we will be criticized, ridiculed, or rejected, usually in advance of the situation. This distorted thinking causes us to react defensively or to avoid the situation entirely. If we assume we are the center of attention, we are not going to let our guard down. Often, we predict a negative outcome to a situation to protect ourselves if it happens. It helps us avoid disappointment.
If our significant other is in a bad mood, we assume we did something wrong. If our manager slams the door to the office, we imagine it’s because we were talking on the phone. If a stranger passes us on the sidewalk, it is because we are unappealing.
When we jump to conclusions, we create self-fulfilling prophecies. We avoid interacting with others because we have predicted a negative outcome. We avoid relationships because we tell ourselves it will not succeed. We avoid recovery because we know it will come to naught. We expect the worst possible consequences of a situation because we jumped to the conclusion things will not end well. Over the years, SAD has convinced us we are helpless, hopeless, undesirable, and worthless. It isn’t much of a leap to conclude that we are.
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