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.

Just Posted

Nominations open for UFV Betty Urquhart Community Service award

Award recognizes those who make community a better place to live

Parent concerned over privacy breach is a candidate for Chilliwack school board

Brian Mielke said sharing of student names with U.S. research firm shows trustees disregarding law

Chilliwack athletes run in the rain at first cross-country race

Dozens of elementary/middle/high schoolers tackled a mucky course next to Twin Rinks last Thursday.

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

Chilliwack Chiefs benefit from BCHL Showcase exposure

Carter Wilkie’s first BCHL goal Saturday against Wenatchee earned him talks with several NCAA scouts.

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

5 to start your day

Fraser Health buys two MRI clinics, South Surrey boy helps kids in need and more

Vancouver, Delta police won’t use new roadside saliva test to detect pot

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Calgary mayor seeks person who leaked details of closed-door Olympic meeting

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he will ask the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate a leak of details from an in-camera council meeting.

South Surrey boy, 10, to help kids in need

Ronin Bulmer, 10, is going door-to-door asking for donations

B.C. MP Cannings spared brunt of Ottawa tornadoes

MP Richard Cannings was spared the impact of the tornadoes that hit the Ottawa region

Most Read