The most stressful time of the year – exams – is coming. Passing them is hard, but managing the results is even harder. Sometimes, you get a better grade than you expected. However, in some cases, the received mark is frustrating and not the one you wanted. In our essay, our friend, we are trying to calm you down and to find some arguments on why you should not stress so much about that.
The problem is that negative results can shape students’ self-esteem. You can start thinking that failure means that you are the worst in class or that your parents will be disappointed by you once and forever. When you are stressed about the low mark, your mind unavoidably presents thoughts like that, and you accept them automatically. However, most of such ideas contain cognitive distortions and logical mistakes.
The most common cognitive distortion is dichotomous thinking. This is a logical trap that looks like “if this is not an A, then this is a B.” For example, you perceive yourself as a loser or a king of the universe. Your exam results are either a failure or a success. In short, such a way of thinking perceives the world in black and white colors. The other mistake is fortune-telling. It looks like “if A happened, then it will happen always.” This means that you start expecting failure in anything you do after getting negative results once. The other type is a catastrophe. This happens when you believe that your current failure or mistake will shape your entire life. For example, a failed exam means that you will never get a job.
When you think this way, you absolutize everything, using such terms as “never” or “always.” One mistake means that you will repeat it again and again. A failed exam means that you will always fail exams. If you accept such a way of thinking like your own, then every success you achieve will be underestimated automatically. For instance, you will convince yourself that you received a good grade just because you were lucky, not because you worked hard and did your best.
We need to fix that!
Most of us have cognitive distortions described above in this or another form. To change these thinking habits, you need to restructure your attitude. Psychologists use this method widely and call it a behavioral approach. Anxiety and depression can be eliminated when you change the chains of your thoughts.
When you are inside a particular thinking pattern, it is hard to notice that it is not very adequate. As a result, you just dive into the anxious thoughts and stay addicted to them for a long time. When you are worried, your body dysfunctions as well. As a result, you have a tremor in your hands, fast heartbeat, and shallow breathing. Also, such patterns can lead to avoidance. For example, students might refuse to take a second exam or simply miss the next one.
What to do?
The technique mentioned above involves a couple of steps. You are recommended to take notes and write down your feelings when you start using it. This will help you track your condition easier.
For example, you may start by describing your day in percentage. Let’s say, the day consisted of 20% of joy and 80% of sadness. Also, you should write down what are the cognitive distortions you have. Write down thoughts that can be marked as “catastrophe,” “dichotomy,” and “fortune-telling.” This way, you will see your own thinking mistakes better.
Continue making notes and develop the questions and answers that criticize and destruct your cognitive distortions. For example, write something like, “Are there any connections between grades and employment?” or “A grade is not something that makes you better or worse than anyone else.”
Remember that there are many ways to success, and it is not very clear if the exams are on the list. Fight the irrational part of your mind and try to develop a new way of thinking – more open, expanded, and free. Catch the negative thoughts by the tail and ask questions. Don’t rely on their automatic flow!
All of us have to fight the “dark” parts of ourselves, trying to become more rational and logical. Now you have a strategy at hand, so use it wisely to learn how to paint your world in more colors than black and wait. We hope that these techniques will become your habit and serve you even when your exams are far behind your back. Good luck with your studying and don’t fume about trifles!