I woke up today with a resolve to revive my ten-minute writing regimen to perk up my brain. It has been quite sometime since I last posted an entry in my blog, although I ve been spending time reading info on the web especially the litemind blog where I devoured valuable insights on how to improve my thinking life. I read about the thinking traps –all ten of them and what we can do to foolproof our mind. These traps hinder us from thinking rationally, and subsequently from making effective decisions. These are the following (in no particular order):

(1) Anchoring Trap
Sometimes we base our thoughts on the ideas other people feed us. For example, if we were asked, “is the population of Naga City around 500,000? ” Instead of getting the hard facts, we tend to answer with the ideas given as our “anchor.” Perhaps we say, “more or less within that range” as we think that the info we received especially if comes from people we trust, has a ring of truth in it. (According to Wiki, the city population is only around 175,000 as of the latest census)

(2) Recall Trap
This is one thinking trap where we allow recent events or experiences to influence our thoughts and decisions. An example would be a decision not to fly to a particular destination after an incident of a plane crash, with the fear that the same tragedy might reoccur.

(3) Conformity Trap
Oh, am oftentimes guilty of this. But aren’t we all? How many times have we bought or done something, or watched movies, or sported a particular haircut, or worn an outfit (even if we looked like an idiot) just because it was the rage? If it’s popular, it must be right (uh,uh…is it really? Shall we forget what the Book says? ” Wide is the road that leads to destruction (now that’s popularity — irresistible to the simpleton). Enter therefore the narrow road that leads to life..(this is a call for the wise)

(4) Incomplete Info Trap
Of course, if the pieces of information we receive are mere chips and do not give us an entire picture of the reality, then we may be in danger of falling into this trap — accepting one bit of info and drawing imprecise conclusions out of it. Say for instance, you bumped into a good friend of yours in a mall, and after exchanging pleasantries, she matter or factly mentioned that she saw your dear hubby in a tete a tete with a good looking (err, ravishing ) woman at Manila Pen. Without the complete facts, your imagination started running wild and guess what’s next? The war of the titans. One innocent quip swallowed maliciously resulted to marital discord. Lesson? Get ALL the facts. Relying on a teeny weeny bit of info is dangerous. (Oh, by the way, hubby did manage to tell you amidst your hysterics and only after he found a secure spot under your matrimonial bed, that the bombshell he was with was none other than his twin sister!)

(5) Sunk Cost Trap
Sunk costs are tantamount to lost resources. No matter what you do, there is no way you can recoup or recover what you have spent. An example would be prepaid cards, flights booked and paid for in advance, whole-year magazine subscription payment or anything that you spend for in advance prior to actual consumption. They are considered sunk cost, because they are irrecoverable regardless of your decisions–whether or not you consume the items you already paid for.

(6) Status Quo Trap

When the status quo makes us say, “I’m fine where I am,” we tend to shun new ideas (which cocoon new possibilities) for fear of the unknown and of what we may lose. After all, who would want to stir the otherwise tranquil (albeit monotonous) rhythm of a flowing brook? Who would want to change horses in midstream when the journey has allowed you to sip champagne and munch Ferrero Rocher even as the destination is yet far off?To put it simply, the seeming contentment we have of the present, while it is not our ideal and even a bit off track from our main objective, may cloud our sense of judgment and make us “reject” new thoughts or ideas that may well be what we need to achieve our main objectives.

(7) Confirmation Trap
How often have we consulted people who we knew were likely to support our ideas or confirm our decisions based merely on their experiences
similar to ours? When trying to justify our decisions or actions, we seek the confirmation of those we know are on our side or have been in our situation.
To avoid falling into this trap in making decisions, we need to seek objective sources of information — facts and not just thumbs up of people who dote on us.

(8) Illusion of Control Trap
There have been countless of times when I relied more on my own instincts and “diskarte” than seek others’ valuable opinion. This is because our pride would often tell us to do things on our own and not depend on others. We want control over what we do and of course, we want credit for it. We refuse to simply acknowledge we do not have all the answers nor the skills and competence to do something beyond the ambit of our expertise.

(9) Superiority Trap
Oh, the airhead pops out of the window every so often, doesn’t he? Don’t we nurse the thought that we are better than the person next door? We tend to overestimate who we are and what we can do, that we oftentimes shut off from our radar others who we think less are lower mortals or of inferior species, in terms of mental faculties, educational attainment and even looks. Ooops, we need to guard our thoughts lest we succumb to the snares of pride and arrogance. We ought to remember always what the Apostle Paul says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. But in humility, consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interest of others.”

“Don’t talk to lesser mortals.” This is what a bro advised me sometime ago. I was almost tempted to concede. But hey, I’m a lesser mortal, too, aren’t I? If this was the attitude of The Lord Jesus, nobody would be saved and experience eternal joy. The Great I Am talked to mere mortals –Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and countless others– even to men of once depraved minds and hearts, precisely because he’s loving and gracious. There is no reason why a mere creature like me would do what is contrary to the example set by my Creator. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. ” Philippians 2:6-8 That’s the most humble act of one who is way superior than the angels above.

(10) Coincidence Trap
We sometimes regard events as mere coincidences, especially if we never considered such events would likely take place given prevailing circumstances or conditions. In other words, we tend to lean more on luck or chance than on making things happen. When for instance, we hit a pot in a game, ( say Monopoly) we may answer , “Oh, mere coincidence. just pure luck!” This is a thinking trap — one that cripples us from taking charge and assuming responsibility for what could take place or for the consequences of our decisions. Being proactive and taking the responsibility for our actions and its possible consequences will free us from leaving things to chance.

There. Am not sure I have done justice to explaining these thinking traps as I understood them and as they apply to our personal situations. But it’s the best stretch my brain cells could take. (Click here for the original source and detailed exposition of these traps). Have a blessed day!