7 Emotional Mistakes Even Very Smart People Make

#2: Trying to control your emotions

Nick Wignall
8 min readMay 26


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Unforutantely, most people don’t know much about their emotions — either how they work or how to work with them in a healthy way.

As a result, they end up making the same emotional mistakes over and over again, leading to cycles of low mood, anxiety, procrastination, and strained relationships to name just a few.

And almost every emotional mistake people fall into comes down to this one trap:

What feels good now often leads to feeling worse later.

Emotional mistakes are intuitive responses to painful feelings that often give relief in the short term but only make the problem worse in the future.

As a psychologist, my job is to help teach people how their emotions really work, so they can work with them in a healthy way instead of just trying to avoid them or get rid of them with quick fixes.

What follows are 7 of the most common emotional mistakes even very smart people make. If you can learn to identify them and avoid them, you’ll find yourself far happier and more emotionally stable.

1. Believing your thoughts

Being able to think, reason, and problem-solve is a wonderful thing. But it can get you into trouble if you’re not careful.

The problem many people get into, especially smart people, is that they over-rely on their thoughts.

Because their thinking is so helpful and accurate in certain areas of life — at work, for example — they assume that their thoughts are always helpful and accurate. Which leads to a tendency to trust their thoughts unconditionally.

But here’s the thing:

No matter how smart you are, your thoughts can be dead wrong. Especially thoughts about yourself.

But how we think directly impacts how we feel emotionally:

  • If you tell yourself you’re a loser, you’re going to feel bad.
  • If you imagine yourself screwing up tomorrow’s big presentation at work, you’re going to feel anxious.
  • If you mentally rehearse the 225 ways your spouse has wronged you…



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com