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Personalisation Thinking Errors

Personalisation involves interpreting external events as though they are directly related to you or what you have done rather than being attributed to other factors.

The problem with personalising events is that it can lead to feelings of guilt and a tendency to get upset very easily as you see things as your fault. At worst, it can lead to paranoid thoughts.

Examples of Personalisation

You feel guilty when your friend is upset and you don’t seem to be able to make them feel better. You think to yourself ‘ If I was a better friend I’d know just what to say to cheer them up. Obviously I’ve offended them in some way’.

You feel upset when you bump into a friend in the local shopping centre after she only gives you a cursory ‘hello’ and rushes off. You conclude that you have done something to make them unhappy with you.

How to Stop Personalising

Try to think of alternative possibilities that DON’T involve you directly, for example:

Alternative Contributory Factors

Perhaps your friend has been suffering with Depression or Anxiety that you didn’t know about, or perhaps they just had some bad news about a family member. There could be a million other possible reasons why they seem inconsolable, and most of those will be completely outside of your control or influence.

Consider Why People Might Respond To You In These Ways

Don’t jump to the immediate conclusion that the way people respond is directly related to you. You really don’t know what they’re feeling or thinking and they may even be feeling really bad about rushing off without stopping to talk to you. They may simply be having their own bad day.

Remember, it’s not really all about you, nobody inhabits the centre of the universe, so try to consider the wider range of possibilities beyond yourself.

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