Evaluative thinking and anxiety. Case on the psychological group

To understand our participants, imagine that you are asked to openly share your impressions about the people in your team, for example, about your work colleagues.

How would you feel about it? Would it cause problems for you?

I don’t know about you, but for many of our group members, the task caused discomfort and anxiety. Many admitted that they were anxiously awaiting the next meeting.

In fact, catching this anxiety state and sorting it out was the point of this assignment.

The fact is that such an alarming state happens to us often. It happens with new acquaintances, when speaking in public, negotiations, just when interacting with people, especially when you need to agree on something or protect your interests. In such situations, we are afraid that something will go wrong: we will be misunderstood, not appreciated, we worry about the reaction to our words and behavior, and therefore feel and behave insecurely.

Not surprisingly, as a result of insecure behavior, things don’t really go the way you want them to. We get reinforcement for our anxiety and the next time we worry even more, getting into a vicious circle. As a result, we generally try to avoid such situations and miss our opportunities.

Where does this anxiety come from and how to avoid it?

You have probably heard about such a thing as evaluative and non-evaluative thinking . Let’s see how it works with this example.

When we are asked, “What do you think of this person?” – in our head, a value judgment is automatically formed about him: good / bad; kind angry; calm/nervous; smart/stupid and so on.

Unfortunately, this is where our analysis most often ends. But if you figure it out, this is what happens:

First, evaluation is our subjective feeling. In reality, a person can be kind today, and angry tomorrow. In some conditions, he can be calm, and in others, nervous. At home, he can show one side of his character, and at work another. Therefore, an unambiguous assessment of such a complex system as a person is always not correct.

Secondly, evaluations create anxiety and discomfort in ourselves. We are embarrassed to share many assessments, because we are afraid of offending a person. It happens that we are afraid not to match the assessments of other people. And we are also afraid of getting a response assessment – it ‘s not pleasant, because, as we have already said, assessments are always wrong.

Thirdly, the assessment is the end of the story, because they do not see further prospects behind them.


“Vasya is a great guy, he is a good person and a balanced personality.” So what are we going to do with this information? We are happy for Vasya and all the best.

And if so:

“Vasya knows Italian, knows how to cook, is financially secure and not married” Immediately some opportunities emerge, don’t they?

Thus, you can notice that by removing the ratings, we kind of unfold the person, we see the real facts about him. And the facts immediately open up further prospects for us.

But the most important thing is that anxiety goes away. What is alarming about the fact that a person knows how to cook and speaks Italian?

Let’s move on to the next question:

– What do you think he lacks, what does he need?

This question is generally turned on its head in evaluative thinking. After all, most of us begin to talk about what we miss from this person. We evaluate him according to our criteria, and then declare that he lacks, well, for example, politeness or tact, flexibility or patience.

But was that the question? Does a person lack politeness or do we lack courtesy from him?

If we offer a person what he really lacks, he will accept it and be grateful. Perhaps, in turn, he will want to offer something in return and there will be cooperation. And if we try to offer courtesy to the bouncer at the bar or the longshoreman, I’m afraid we won’t cooperate. We feel it, but we do not depart from the habit of value judgment. And then the psyche responds to this with anxiety and anxiety.

We are so accustomed to evaluative thinking that I would not be surprised if many now have the feeling that I am deliberately confusing you. That it was necessary to formulate questions differently . But maybe it’s not the questions that confused you, but we just saw the fetters that evaluative thinking creates?

Like it or not, decide for yourself. Only without judgment, but on the basis of facts: is it easy for you to interact with people, is it easy to see opportunities and common interests, is it easy to agree on joint projects and translate them into reality?

This is our last question:

What would you agree to do with this person?

I’ll make a reservation right away that we would agree to do it for reasons of a stable psyche. That is, because you want it, it is interesting, you need the results of this joint activity. Arguments of a neurotic nature according to the type I would agree for the sake of saving humanity, we will leave it for the next analysis)).

So, what would you agree to do with him?

It would seem, what does value thinking have to do with it? But, as you remember, evaluative thinking does not show specific perspectives. And if there are no concrete ones, then abstract ones remain. That is, those that it is not clear how they can end. Agree, this does not bring peace and clarity to our lives: we miss good opportunities, or act on luck with a high probability of disappointment. Both cause anxiety and irritation.

Heard the phrase: “I would go with him to reconnaissance!”

And with whom would you go on reconnaissance: with a polite guy or with someone who has the appropriate training? It seems like a stupid question, but why do so many people start serious business based on a subjective assessment? Joint business, marriage, work or just choosing a company for the weekend – there are many important decisions in life.

Accept them on the basis of facts, not estimates, and do not miss the opportunities that life gives.

When we went over this in a group meeting, the participants reported that the anxiety had gone.

– What contributed to this? we asked them.

– The fact that we removed the value judgment! – They answered.

– Where did they take it from?

– Out of questions!

But that’s not quite right! Whether or not to add a value judgment to the question is up to you. We removed them from our heads, and the questions remained unchanged. The attitude towards them has changed.

To avoid the habit of evaluative thinking, track it in your thoughts and words. Replace good/bad with I like/I don’t like; replace right / wrong with I agree / I disagree; replace he is good / evil with he did a good deed / evil deed.

Write other examples in the comments.

And of course, sign up for our group in order to work out these and other moments in a specially created space in order to find peace and make your life the way you want.

Fear in the presence of people (Social anxiety). How to recognize and what to do?

With social anxiety, a person experiences intense fear in certain life situations in the presence of other people.

A prime example would be the fear of speaking in front of an audience or doing some work under the supervision of other people.

A person may be afraid that other people will evaluate him negatively, for example, humiliate him, ridicule or criticize him.

Because of this fear, a person begins to avoid such situations. And this happens not once, but for a long time.

The strength of fear can be measured on a scale from tension to horror.

To relieve anxiety, people come up with various forms of protective behavior.

Examples. Drink “for courage”, in crowded rooms sit or stand closer to the exit (in order to have time to escape in time), trying not to make eye contact with other people, wearing discreet clothes (so as not to attract attention).

Anxious clients have a whole list of special rules they use to deal with anxiety:

1. Recognition of a possible danger and attempts to predict everything, to foresee, to be always “ready”.

2. From all possible options for the development of the situation, choose the worst possible scenario ( catastrophization ) and imagine all the accompanying unbearable suffering.

3. Take all possible actions to avoid an alarming situation.

4. Try to control the situation as much as possible in the hope that it will be better this way.

These rules do not really help the client in any way, but he does not realize it.

What to do? In the CBT approach, the therapist works to recognize and change the erroneous thoughts, rules, and beliefs that reinforce anxiety. A new look at the problem helps the client get rid of anxiety.

Anxiety and fear. What to do?

What are the misguided thoughts that disturb anxious clients the most?

(Robert Leahy described the main erroneous thoughts and beliefs).

1. If something bad can happen (at least in your imagination), then you should worry about it.

2. You must know exactly what will happen. No uncertainty!

3. Negative thoughts should be treated as if they were real.

4. Everything bad that can happen because you are to blame.

5. Mistakes cannot be made.

6. It is necessary to immediately get rid of any negative emotions and fears.

7. Treat all worrisome situations as if they were an emergency.

event_note May 18, 2022

account_box Winona Tse MD

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