Styles of Distorted Thinking

  1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering our all positive aspects of a situation.
  2. Polarized Thinking/All or None Thinking: Things are black and white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground.
  3. Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. A single piece of evidence or isolated experience draw overreaching conclusions; if it’s true in one case, then it’s always true. “Because she turned me down for a date, I’ll never get a date.”
  4. Mind Reading: Without a person saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to determine how people are feeling towards you.
  5. Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what ifs.” What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you? “I can’t stand-it-itis.”
  6. Personalization: Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.
  7. Control Fallacies: If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control makes you think that you are responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.
  8. Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people won’t agree with you.
  9. Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack, and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.
  10. Shoulding on Yourself: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.
  11. Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true automatically. If you feel stupid and boring, you must be stupid and boring. You make an inference about self, world or future on the basis of emotional experience; my emotions equal fact; if I feel it, then it’s true. “Because he is angry with me, I must have done something wrong.” “I feel anxious so my business will fail.”
  12. Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hope for happiness seems to depend entirely on them.
  13. Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgement.
  14. Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.
  15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You feel better when the reward doesn’t come.
  16. Comparing: You continually compare yourself to others, even people you don’t know, on any aspect, and you always come up the loser. Other people are prettier, wealthier, happier, etc.
  17. Self-Criticism: A running commentary of performance, appearance, experience, berating of the self; central belief is that you are inadequate.
  18. Rumination: Repetitive, intrusive, unproductive thinking usually about a situation in the past which cannot be changed; blocks productive problem solving.
  19. Discounting Positives: You insist that your accomplishments, positive qualities and positive experiences, don’t count.
  20. Fortune Telling: You always predict that things will turn out badly.
  21. Regret Orientation: You focus on the idea that you could have done better in the past rather than what you can do better now.
  22. Judgement Focus: You view yourself, others or events in terms of evaluations (good, bad, superior, inferior) rather than simply describing, accepting or understanding.