Have you ever wondered why when the same data is presented to different people it can result in a myriad of perspectives? You say tomatoe, I say tomato kind of thing. How we interpret and receive information is unique to us as individuals.
A common example is when a new strategy or idea is presented to a diverse group of people. One person might think it’s great, another might see all the flaws. Another could blame the presenter for poor delivery and lack of engagement, while someone else might compare the presentation to one they went to last week.
The same data is delivered to a group of people, yet their reaction and interpretation of that data is different. How we react becomes highly personalised. The human mind is complex and very powerful and it can convince us of something that isn’t necessarily true. For the individual, at the given time they react, it is their truth, even if it is technically incorrect.
Behavioural therapists will call these different reactions to information, situations or people ‘Cognitive Distortions’ (CDs). Aaron Beck first proposed the theory behind these CDs. David Burns helped define them into separate groups. There are 16 CDs and a lot of detail to fathom, so Matthew Cooksey, a psychotherapist, from the Reinvention Studio and I have condensed them into seven groups based on what we typically see as distortions that prevent people from seeing the ‘real’ truth. We call them – The Board of Directors in your head, or the ‘BOD’s.
Let’s take a look at the ten Board of Directors that live in our mind and distort our perception of the facts.
A Blamer expects that other people should change to suit them. They are quick to fault others and are slow to own situations and their own responses. After all, it’s not their fault, is it?
2. All About Me-ers
Everything people do or say is a direct reaction of something they have said or done – good or bad. They just know it! It’s all about them, they just can’t see that.
3. Black and White Thinkers
This is where people polarise their own thinking. It’s perfect or terrible. It’s ideal or it’s horrendous. There is very little middle ground. They are naturals at jumping to conclusions and don’t tend to see the grey.
4. Negative Thinkers
These thinkers take the negative information and magnify it and filter out the positives. They pick single pieces of information and dwell on them so their perspective becomes darkened or distorted. They are glass half empty people.
5. Catastrophisers and Minimisers (C&Ms)
C&Ms maximise or minimize issues. They see information and situations as much larger or more insignificant than they actually are. They tend to exaggerate to make the issue much larger or smaller than it should be. “It’s the most important issue we should discuss” or “It’s not a big deal”.
6. Always Right
‘Righties’ are continually on trial to prove that what they say and what they do is correct. I’m right. You’re wrong. There’s no other potential conclusion. Righties need to win regardless of the cost. They will often go to great lengths to demonstrate their rightness.
Powerless people are also known as victims. They can have a ‘poor me’ mentality. They often feel like circumstances are out of their control.
These people strive for perfection in many areas in their life, whether they get there or not. Comparing themselves to others can become their norm. Success for them is when they achieve their high set expectations.
Labellers make judgments about people and situations quickly and based on one or two pieces of information. They can also do this to themselves and decide that’s the way they are moving forward.
These people have an unrealistic way of thinking about life, people or circumstances. They believe they should be treated better or owed things irrespective of whether they have earned it or not.
These 10 Board of Directors become our blinkers and filter how much information or ‘truth’ we choose to see. I’ve got blinkers, you’ve got blinkers and your partner also has their own set of blinkers. So how did we form these BOD’s that control and determine how we perceive situations, information and relationships? The ones that then dictate our behaviours and actions as a result of what we believe.
We have all been programmed to think a certain way based on our upbringing, education, race, religion and personal beliefs and experiences. These influences thus distort how we view the world, people and situations. If you think you are blinker-free and immune to the BODs because you know best then you may fall into the ‘Always Right’ category and this blog has your name all over it.
When we become aware of our BOD’s we make smarter decisions and build better relationships.