7 Signs Your Thoughts About Yourself Are Wrong

3 min read
Anthony Tran/Unsplash

Anthony Tran/Unsplash

Humans notoriously don’t accurately understand the causes of their behavior.

Our thoughts about ourselves are often inaccurate, such as our strengths and weaknesses and how we compare to others.

Here are 7 signs your thoughts about yourself might be wrong.

1. There’s objective evidence that doesn’t support your belief.

For example, you believe you’re ill-disciplined but have made many accomplishments.

2. You wouldn’t judge someone else the same way in the same situation.

For example, you see yourself as unaccomplished, but you wouldn’t see someone else who had the same accomplishments as you as unaccomplished.

3. Your conclusions aren’t producing useful solutions.

When we accurately and comprehensively understand why a problem is occurring, that should produce obvious solutions for how to solve the problem.

If your beliefs about what’s causing a problem aren’t leading to valuable solutions, your beliefs might be wrong.

For example, you think being lazy is the reason you procrastinate. However, the real reason driving your procrastination is having unreasonable expectations of yourself. You plan to clean your basement for four hours straight.

You don’t recognize that almost everyone would put off such an onerous plan. If you saw the cause of your procrastination as your unreasonable expectations, not laziness, a solution (dramatically shrinking your expectations) would be obvious.

4. You judge yourself based on a narrow range of examples.

Perhaps you believe you’re disorganized or unproductive but judge yourself solely against productivity influencers.

5. You discount some types of evidence and exaggerate others.

For instance, perhaps you believe you’re bad at finishing things. You can point to examples of important projects you completed and unimportant projects you haven’t finished. However, you overweight the latter. Those examples have an outsized influence on your self-perception,

6. Your view of yourself shifts dramatically depending on temporary factors.

Fluctuating self-esteem is more common than uniformly low self-esteem. For example, mildly negative feedback, ambiguous feedback, or doubt triggered by wrestling with a new skill might dramatically cause you to devalue your intelligence or strengths.

On the flip side, compliments and successes might give your ego a big boost, but it doesn’t last long.

7. You draw your conclusions about yourself based on rumination.

Rumination (negatively toned overthinking) is a very unreliable form of thinking. If your thoughts about yourself arise from your episodes of ruminating, such as mentally replaying a meeting that didn’t go well, there’s a good chance your conclusions are inaccurate. Rumination also impairs our problem-solving.

Misunderstanding ourselves can cause a lot of heartache. It can also cause underperforming our potential because misunderstandings can get in the way of doable solutions and getting support that would help us.

  • Which of these patterns can you most relate to?
  • How can you remind yourself of the knowledge you’ve gained when you most need it?

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