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Jumping to conclusions, a CBT classic

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

Not long ago my wife and I were driving to an outlet store on a calm Saturday afternoon. I was annoyed when I noticed a large black SUV zoom up behind me in my rearview mirror. I was waiting to turn left at a red light--waiting for a green left-turn arrow to appear, as was he. But he clearly had no patience. To my great annoyance, as the light changed and I began my turn, the SUV sped around me in the intersection at a high speed and raced off to the left ahead of me. My wife and I were astonished at such an obnoxious maneuver.

However, our astonishment turned to sympathy and concern as we watched the vehicle pull into a veterinarian's parking lot just ahead, and a man and woman emerged from the SUV with something rather large, a dog I presume, wrapped in a large towel. They ran frantically through the front door no doubt seeking emergency aid.

The moral here is obvious. How often do we assume the worst about others we don't know as we go about our daily lives? And what kind of toll does that take on our psyches? What happens if we give others the benefit of the doubt when we really don't know the reality of a perceived situation? Maybe try it for a day, or half a day. It's not easy, and I'm not exempt from failing at this. I still do despite the above experience. It takes a mindset, and practice.

In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) one of the dysfunctional pitfalls is "jumping to conclusions." This is just one form it can take. Pay attention to how often we add to suffering by harmful assumptions--towards others and ourselves.

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