Today I discovered the amazing blog by Paras Chopra. The content is pure gold and I will be reading more posts in the following days.

One thing that stood out, which I want to make a note about, is the ‘Three Column Technique’. Paras mentions it in his post ‘Writing is defragging brain’ as a way to reason about emotions. You can find detailed descriptions of the technique here and here.

In summary, the technique helps people acknowledge a negative thought, identify the type of cognitive error and come up with a constructive (and rational) alternative thought.

Some of the cognitive distortions listed are:

  1. All-or-nothing thinking
  2. Overgeneralization
  3. Mental filter
  4. Magnification or Minimization
  5. “Should” statements
  6. Personalization
  7. Comparison
  8. Fortune telling
  9. Labelling
  10. Blaming
  11. Discounting the positive
  12. Fallacy of fairness
  13. Jumping to conclusions
  14. Mind reading

The trick is, every time you, your friend or your coworker expresses emotional discontent, try to identify if your/their thoughts have fallen prey to any of the above fallacies.

That said, like with any psychology framework, take this with a grain of salt. People and social systems are very complicated; we understand more than we can articulate. Emotional reasoning might look wrong on the surface, but our uninelligible gut feeling can, very frequently, help us make the right decision.