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Rigid thinking is one of the significant factors that can lead to depression and unhappy life. If you are a rigid thinker and you are facing difficulties living with it, it’s time to put an end to it.
While rigid thinking is most prevalent in children, it can stick with you for a lifetime if you do not acknowledge it and put effort into curbing it.
Also, it is possible that you are not sure if you are a rigid thinker or not. Well, through this blog post, you will learn about the key signs of rigid thinking that can help you to arrive at a conclusion. Also, you will get to know various ways that can help you to suppress rigid thinking.
First, let’s try to understand what rigid thinking truly means.
An individual who finds it difficult to deal with unpredicted situations and believes that they can predict the outcomes of an event is likely a rigid thinker. Rigid thinking can be characterized by the inability to take risks, extreme perseveration, and feeling compulsions to do some specific actions.
Rigid thinking can lead to emotional outbursts, depression, and meltdowns when things do not go as anticipated. Also, rigid behavior hampers the mental health of a person and makes them feel that they have a troubled life.
In simple words, rigid thinking or mental rigidity leads to a behavior where an individual finds it extremely difficult to deal with unexpected situations or outcomes, accept other people’s viewpoints, change existing habits and attitudes, and show empathy towards others.
Rigid behavior is not something that is very new. The study of rigid thinking and behavior can be traced back to the late 19th century. Also, it would not be wrong to assume that it has been existing in humans for centuries. However, with the increasing study of the human mind and behavior, it had become possible for us to identify if an individual is a rigid thinker or not.
Individuals who are controlling and find it quite challenging to deal with ambiguity often get stressed easily. Most of the time, they get disappointed whenever their expectations are not fulfilled. Such people are likely to be rigid thinkers as they show a lack of flexibility when it comes to learning from mistakes, adapting to a changing environment, and accepting the preferences of other people.
Following are some key signs or characteristics of rigid thinking:
- Attempting to control situations or events.
- Sticking to a defined set of rules or routines.
- Ignoring the ideas and thoughts of others.
- Resisting change.
- Rejecting the leadership of other people.
- Finding it too difficult or nearly impossible to overcome negative thoughts.
- Having compulsions to do something.
Pitfalls of Rigid Thinking
While rigid thinking may look harmless to many, it actually disturbs the everyday life of a person in several ways. One of the most common implications of rigid thinking is the inability to get along with other people, which can eventually lead to social isolation.
There are many other consequences of rigid thinking that an individual might have to face, and they are mentioned as follows:
You can also check out our other related article Critical Thinking:
A rigid thinker usually expects things to happen in a certain way. However, we all know that it’s very rare that things go completely as planned. In such a case, where unexpected events give birth to certain situations, rigid thinkers find it difficult to comprehend those situations.
The lack of proper understanding of a situation results in taking actions that are of little to no use when it comes to tackling the situation effectively. All this leads to chaos that eventually ceases the capability of rigid thinkers to perceive things happening around them and act accordingly.
Being unable to cope with ambiguity and unpredicted situations makes a rigid thinker too anxious. This can lead to stress and depression. It’s hard for a person with rigid behavior to accept the obscurities within a situation.
When rigid thinkers found that things are getting out of their control, they lose hope and are unable to process the situation and devise a plan to deal with it.
It is always a traumatic experience when an action leads to the emergence of uncertain situations or when a plan goes south. Moreover, the experience becomes even worse when one is sure that things will move in a certain way.
For rigid thinkes, there are certain rules that they abide by. However, when the same rules don’t apply to a particular situation, a rigid thinker is likely to behave abnormally. This is so because they are mentally unprepared to deal with situations that they have never anticipated.
For rigid thinkes, failure is something that they take quite seriously. In general, people who are flexible consider failures as life lessons that can help them to become better. However, people with rigid thinking see failure as a lost opportunity.
While it’s just a perception that they have failed miserably, rigid thinkers often have outbursts when they face failures in life. The outburst can be in the form of rage, breakdown, or verbal spat. Thus, rigid thinkers usually demonstrate a lack of control over their emotions.
It is possible to control some situations by properly planning the actions required to do so. However, the same isn’t possible for every situation. The biggest problem with rigid thinking is that it makes a person believe that they can control everything that is happening around them. But the reality is quite different.
Every individual comes across situations in life that are unavoidable and uncontrollable. Usually, it’s hard for rigid thinkers to digest that they are helpless in certain situations. They put maximum effort into taking charge of the situation and moving the wagon as desired by them. However, in this process, they often get exhausted and when they realize that they are unable to control the situation, the negative thoughts start haunting them.
It must be now clear to you that rigid thinking can take away happiness from a person’s life. Thus, rigid thinkers need to change their way of thinking to live a more enjoyable life.
While there are several strategies that one can follow to suppress rigid thinking, the following are the ones that are the most popular (and effective):
One of the best ways to get rid of rigid thinking is to relax your mind and let go of things that you simply can’t control. You need to understand or convince yourself that you are not bound to control everything that happens around you. It is always better to accept unpredicted situations.
To keep your mind calm, you need to take away the stress in your life. Instead of thinking about a situation that you have no control over, you can divert your mind by doing something that you love to do. Also, you can practice meditation and breathing exercises to relax your body as well as your brain. This will also help you to deal with your negative thoughts and accept things the way they are.
One of the most common traits of rigid thinkers is that they tend to do certain tasks exactly the same way. This kind of behavior is something that you need to leave behind for good. It is important to convince yourself that if you do your everyday tasks differently, nothing bad will happen. Also, you need to understand that doing the same task in different ways helps you to become more creative.
You can try to do your everyday tasks like driving to the office, going for a morning walk, taking a shower, etc. in a different way. For instance, you can drive to your office while taking a new route, change the timing of your morning walk, take shower at slightly different times, etc. Also, you can try new things, like a food dish, a sport, etc. to make yourself open to change.
While challenging your beliefs is the hardest thing to do, it can yield positive results when it comes to getting rid of rigid behavior. However, you need to keep in mind that you do not have to alter all your beliefs but only the ones that promote rigid behavior. For instance, there may be some beliefs of yours that are completely different from other people. Also, you can readily argue with others that you only value your beliefs.
Well, you need to change such behavior by not neglecting the beliefs, values, and morals of other people. You have to put extra effort to understand the thinking process of the people you interact with or care about. By doing so, you will find it much easier to communicate with people and have meaningful interactions. Also, by getting familiar with the beliefs of others, you might learn something new that makes more sense to you.
By prioritizing flexible thinking, you can restrict rigid behavior. As flexible thinking is completely opposite to rigid thinking, you need to develop it and make it a part of your life.
Flexible thinking simply means to challenge rules, accept new opportunities, live in the moment, try new things, and go with the flow. You need to develop the ability to compromise and stay calm with a positive mindset even in stressful situations. Also, while you embrace flexible thinking, it’s important that you acknowledge that you are a rigid thinker and you want to change yourself.
Sometimes it may become difficult for you to deal with rigid thinking on your own. So, in such a case, it is always better to take the help of a professional. You can practice the different strategies to suppress rigid thinking under the guidance of an expert. Also, they will let you know whenever you go wrong while implementing a strategy.
However, while consulting a professional, you need to make sure that he/she has sufficient experience and a proven track record of helping people with rigid behavior.
While you put efforts to suppress rigid thinking, you need to understand that it is a lengthy process. You need to try various strategies and identify the most effective ones. Moreover, you need to stay optimistic and develop a positive mindset.
Just like you have to go to the gym regularly to tone your body, you need to put in constant effort to embrace flexible thinking.
Rigid thinking often leads to several problems that can hamper the life of an individual. A rigid thinker finds it difficult to socialize with people, react to unforeseen situations appropriately, show empathy towards others, adapt to changes, and maintain a positive mindset.
It is essential for an individual with rigid behavior to develop flexible thinking. The first step to suppressing rigid thinking is to accept its existence. There are different ways and strategies like the ones mentioned in this post that can help an individual to fade their rigid behavior. Additionally, one should not refrain from taking the help of a professional if they are unable to suppress their rigid thinking.