Twisted Thinking Part 4: Discounting the Positive

How does this help you? Seriously though! Where does it get you? A lot of times we just do this without even thinking about it but do we ever stop to consider the cost? If thoughts are where everything starts for us, I would argue that it is costing us greatly.

Discounting the Positive

Discounting the positive is a thinking error where, basically, someone gives you a compliment and you punch yourself in the face. Or you do something really great for your wife or kids and you tell yourself, that wasn’t nearly enough. You could have earned a Congressional Medal of Honor, along with the Nobel Peace Prize, and you would tell yourself that doesn’t really count. Your wife may tell you that you are the best husband in the world and you would say to yourself, meh, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. How does this help you? Seriously though! Where does it get you? A lot of times we just do this without even thinking about it but do we ever stop to consider the cost? If thoughts are where everything starts for us, I would argue that it is costing us greatly.

This is one where it really stems from whatever opinion you have of yourself. You know how what other people say about you can only hurt you as much as you believe them? Well, the opposite is true as well. Good things other people say can only help me as much as I believe them. Whatever we choose to believe (or allow ourselves to believe by default), our brains will be hard at work to find evidence to support that belief. So let’s help ourselves instead of sabotaging ourselves. What we think of ourselves is 100% more important than what others think of us.

My Versions of Discounting the Positive

I have many versions of this thinking error. But one of my go-to versions is when someone compliments me and I think if they knew the whole story about me they wouldn’t be saying that. What a mean thing to say to myself! I don’t say that when other people get complimented.

Another version is if I accomplish something impressive and afterward I tell myself, that really wasn’t anything specialAnd then my brain goes to work supporting that idea and I feel like crap.

Side Affects

Remember how our thoughts cause our feelings? If you didn’t know this, just pretend you believe it for a moment and go with me on this. The problem with discounting the positive is that we immediately shut down any opportunity of feeling great from these amazing thoughts about ourselves. Then think about the way you act when you think you are a terrific spouse and a totally lovable human being. Now think of the way you behave when you think you are a terrible person and the never-good-enough spouse. Which thought produces which results? When I am stuck in not-good-enough mode, I typically want to shrink down, try not to inconvenience anyone, and avoid really putting myself out there and living. When I believe in myself and believe that I have a lot of value to offer to those around me and to the world, I behave so differently. I become engaged. I create value. I feel alive.

Antidote

Choose your thoughts carefully. And be intentional about it, because even if you don’t think you are choosing thoughts, you are allowing them when you let your brain go on default mode. And default mode isn’t always helpful. But the more we get intentional and conscious about it, the more we can influence the default thoughts to improve as well for when our brain goes on autopilot. This includes identifying the thinking errors when they pop up. It just takes practice.

Some Amazing Thoughts to Think

  • I am fulfilling my purpose as a human.
  • That went just as it was supposed to.
  • I’m a completely lovable human.
  • I’m learning from this.
  • I am making valuable contributions by sharing my ideas and putting myself out there.
  • I am legit.
  • I am the real deal.
  • The Universe doesn’t make mistakes.
  • I am exactly as I should be.
  • It’s not what we do — it’s who we are.
  • There’s nothing wrong with you.
  • The world longs for what you have to offer.
  • Suffering is sometimes familiar, but not necessary.
  • Your past is perfect (explore this one and let it challenge you before you just dismiss it).
  • What others think of me is about them, not me (good and bad).

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Please share your experiences with discounting the positive. Make comments. Let’s get a discussion going.

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