also known as "Twisted Thinking"
This is one of the main areas of focus for Cognitive Therapy.
Sometimes we are not aware of what we are thinking.
And we often confuse our feelings with thoughts.
One way to tell the difference is that a feeling could be described in one word
For example: angry, frustrated, confused,
resentful, despairing, etc.
Thinking might use more words, such as:
not going to be ok!" or
will never change!" and
world is out to get me" etc.
here are 10 forms of twisted thinking:
- all-or-nothing thinking (everything is black or white, nothing
- overgeneralization (seeing a single negative event as a
never-ending pattern of defeat by using terms such as "always"
- mental filtering (picking a single negative detail and
dwelling on it exclusively)
- discounting the positive (rejecting positive experiences by insisting
they "don't count")
- jumping to conclusions (arbitrarily concluding that someone is
reacting negatively to you based on no actual evidence [mind-reading], or
predicting ahead of time that things will turn out badly
- magnification (exaggerating the importance of your problems
- emotional reasoning (assuming that your negative emotions
necessarily reflect the way things really are)
- "should" statements (telling yourself that things should be the
way you hoped or expected them to be)
- labeling (an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking,
e.g., instead of "i made a mistake,"
you think "i'm a total loser," or
"failure," or "jerk," etc.)
- personalization/blame (holding yourself personally responsible for
an event that isn't entirely under your control, or blaming other people
or your circumstances for your problems while overlooking ways you
yourself might be contributing to the problem)
We can all
do one or more of these distortions. I is almost normal to do this immediately
when something goes wrong.
It can take effort to have awareness of what we are doing and that it isn't
We can make a bad situation even worse.
Can we begin to understand how cognitive distortions are affecting our lives,
our relationships, and hindering our success and enjoyment?
Why not you too?