The emotional clean-up: spring cleaning your thinking


OpenEyessquareSpring is finally here. I think it might finally be safe to say we will not see anymore snow for a few months, which means summer is soon upon us.

As we know, here in the Twin Cities things tend to get interesting when it gets hot outside. Currently, with the intense racial injustice climate we are experiencing across the nation, it is important that we are balancing our emotions and logic as Black people.

Often people look at summer as an opportunity to get out of the house, travel, spend time at the park, and attend festivals. It can also be an opportunity to, as the popular saying used to go, “Get our minds right.” The need to re-shift our thought process is important for our personal and communal development.

It is easier to get caught in the high, intense emotions of frustration, fear and anger, which can lead to distorted and unhelpful thinking patterns. Here are a series of patterns to keep in mind. If you are experiencing any of these now, it might be time to do an emotional clean-up.

Unhelpful thinking styles

  • All or Nothing Thinking: This is one that keeps many Black people from progressing. It’s either one way or the other. There is no in-between, and this is a trap.
  • Mental Filter: This is when one only focuses on the negative aspects of life. We must be able to look at things on both sides of the coin, positive and negative.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: This is when one has expectations with little information and you are trying to “mind read” others or engage in “fortune telling.” This is dangerous territory.
  • Emotional Reasoning: This is when one uses mostly emotions to justify one’s decisions. It’s best to have a good balance of logic and emotions when reasoning.
  • Labeling: This is when one assigns a status to oneself or others that is not helpful. It often limits our abilities to progress.
  • Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: This is the guilt factor. We all do this and we all know it is not helpful. The only way to move beyond the guilt is executing your next move and learning from your mistakes.
  • Personalization: Also known as “It’s my fault.” This is when we are taking more responsibility than we should for things that are often out of our control. Sometimes it is best to just let things be what they are and find creative ways to move beyond them. Blaming oneself is rarely constructive.

It’s common for many people to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life. There are demands that are always upon us that make it difficult to slow down and pay more attention to how we are handling our emotional response to these demands.

Our thinking affects our actions and thoughts. It is essential to think about how your thinking has impacted your life. Then ask yourself, am I where I want to be in life? If the answer is “no,” then it might be your mindset and thinking style at fault.


Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses to or follow him on twitter @UniversalJones.