What is distorted thinking? It is a way in which our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. Here are 15 types of distorted thinking that it certainly wouldn’t hurt us to be more aware of. These often lead to inaccurate negative thinking and emotions. Placing us not only in conflict with ourselves – but with other people and the world around us. We tell ourselves things that appear rational and accurate, but only really serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. By becoming aware of this distorted thinking over and over again, it will slowly diminish over time and be automatically replaced by more rational thinking. Allowing us to understand our cravings and aversions to life and in the process becoming more balanced in our reactions to situations as they arise.
1. Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
2. Polarized Thinking: Things are black or 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.
4. Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.
5. Castastrophizing: You expect disaster. you notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s”. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?
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 has you 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. Should: 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, then you must be stupid and boring.
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 seem to depend entirely on them.
13. Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.
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.
Beck, A. T. (1976). Cognitive therapies and emotional disorders. New York: New American Library.
Burns, D. D. (1980). Feeling good: The new mood therapy. New York: New American Library.