Thinking Clearly

It can be very valuable for leaders to explore possible limiting distortions/mental filters as a as a means of developing their thinking capabilities and build resilience.  Our brains are predisposed to making connections between thoughts, ideas, actions and consequences, whether they are truly connected or not.  In this article we explore ways of thinking about things that have a limiting impact on what a person notices, pays attention to, believes, feels and ultimately acts upon.

Black and white thinking; This is the tendency to think in extremes (also called dichotomous or polarised thinking) and stops us from seeing the world for what it is i.e., complex, nuanced and full of all the shades in between.  We all engage in this type of thinking from time to time and it may have origins in survival thinking and can be linked to those who are vulnerable to anxiety and depression.  This thinking is very dangerous for a leader, as it stifles collaborative working and stifles incremental progress towards mastery (growth mindset).

Cognitive Distortions; These are mental filters, and we all use them.  They are biased perspectives we take on ourselves and the world around us.  They are often subtle but because they are a feature of our day to day thought they can be hard to change.  These are far more likely to be stronger when someone is feeling stressed, anxious or distressed.  Picture a senior doctor facing the relentless challenges of COVID in their area of clinical practice.  There is a huge backlog of patients who have not been treated, staff have left or made choices moving forward about the hours they want to work.  There is huge pressure to make decisions quickly on a daily basis about things that will affect colleagues, patients and relative’s long term.  They lie awake at night worrying.  What can you do to help them?

There are many cognitive distortions and if you would like to explore these further, we can recommend the following short read, including a link to a YouTube video on their links to depression:

Dedici Workshop recommendations:

  • Applying Sport Psychology to Improve Clinical Performance 0.5 day
  • Distress Tolerance Skills
  • Mental Health Awareness for Clinicians (FAIB Accredited)
  • Improving Wellbeing: Helping You to deliver individual & team resilience
  • Mindfulness and Self-Compassion for Health Professionals

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