Don’t jump to conclusions

At some point in our lives we have all made the mistake of jumping to conclusions about something. Yet one more thought error or cognitive distortion where our mind puts a spin on the events we see, and attaches a not-so-objective explanation of what we are experiencing.

I failed that math test – Well, there goes my A. My child’s teacher wants to talk with me after school – What have they done now? I’m new to this school – Everyone is going to dislike me. A colleague never returned my call – They must not like or respect me.  Kids and teens have done it, as have parents and grandparents, teachers and coaches – in fact, at some point in our lives we have all made the mistake of jumping to conclusions about something. Yet one more thought error or cognitive distortion where our mind puts a spin on the events we see, and attaches a not-so-objective explanation of what we are experiencing.

Jumping to conclusions can be defined as making a negative interpretation about something even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support that conclusion. Rather than letting the evidence bring us to a logical conclusion, we set our sights on a conclusion (often negative), and then look for evidence to back it up, often ignoring evidence to the contrary. It’s a close cousin to other thought errors we have mentioned previously since conclusion-jumpers often fall prey to mind reading (where they believe that they know the true intentions of others without talking to them) and fortune telling (predicting how things will turn out in the future and believing these predictions to be true).

So why do we jump to conclusions, especially negative ones, so quickly? Well, we do a lot of things without an iota of thought, like breathing and blinking, and sometimes we jump or leap to conclusions in an attempt to make meaning of what we observe or experience – because humans are meaning-making creatures. Problems arise though because we tend to pick interpretations that fit our own existing view of the world, and thus if jumping to conclusions becomes a chronic problem we can get stuck in our own viewpoint, even when it doesn’t fit with reality.

However, we owe it to ourselves and our kids and family members and colleagues to press the pause button before we jump to conclusions, and think about other potential explanations besides the one we automatically leapt to. Consider the following tips:

• Focus on directly observable and tangible facts and events as these anchor us to reality and keep our subjectivity subdued

• Entertain different possibilities and interpretations

• Resist unnecessary future predictions – you probably have enough going on in the present without worrying about or trying to control the future

• Accept uncertainty and be content with not knowing what people are thinking or what might happen

• Ask questions of others to help confirm or reject your interpretation

So, maybe that math test was harder or you didn’t study as much. Or, maybe the teacher wants to ask you to volunteer or thank you for raising such a clear thinking child. Perhaps the other kids will think you are exciting and interesting because you are new. And perhaps the phone was broken or your colleague was busy.

 

Eryn Wicker (M.A., R.C.C.) is a mental health clinician with the Child and Youth Mental Health team of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Chilliwack, BC.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Former Chilliwack city councillor’s breach of trust case resolved using ‘alternative measures’

Charges dropped against Sam Waddington who faced two counts from 2017 related to allegations

Corn maze set to open in Chilliwack with ‘together’ as this year’s theme

New protocols include wider pathways, limited people at Chilliwack Corn Maze

Adam Smith resigns as Sardis Falcons football head coach

Sukh Parmar takes over as Smith heads back to Manitoba to take care of his ailing mother

UBC soccer star Victory Shumbusho offers one-on-one training for Chilliwack players

The Chilliwack FC grad believes players need more training to reach higher levels of soccer

Wings and Wheels fundraiser ready to roll in Abbotsford this weekend

Unique collection of cars invading Tradex for drive-thru experiences on Saturday and Sunday

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Friends do ‘amazing’ home makeover for retired police officer

Pitt Meadows RCMP veteran was away getting treatment for PTSD

Lower Mainland woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

VIDEO: B.C. community rallies to save snared eagle

Revelstoke climber scales tree to save the raptor

Most Read