Styles of Distorted Thinking

  1. Filtering – you take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation; tunnel vision.
    Alternatives:  No need to magnify, “I can cope”

  2. Polarized Thinking – black and white thinking; things are either good or bad; you have to be perfect or you’re a failure; there is no middle ground or gray area.
    Alternatives:  Think in percentages.  No black and white judgments.

  3. Overgeneralization – you come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a piece of evidence; if something bad happens, you expect it to happen over and over again; thinking in terms of “always” and “never’.
    Alternatives – Quantify.  Check of Evidence.  There are no absolutes.

  4. Mind Reading – without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way the do; in particular, you are able to define how people are feeling about you.
    Alternatives:  Check out assumptions.

  5. Catastrophizing – you expect disaster; you notice or hear about a problem and start “what ifs”  - what if tragedy strikes?  What if it strikes me?’ extreme exaggeration of impending doom; believing the worst conceivable danger is imminent.
    Alternative:  Realistic odds.

  6. Blaming – you either hold others responsible for your pain, or you blame yourself for every problem.
    Alternatives:  Each person is ultimately responsible for their lives.  Others are not responsible for meeting your needs or vice-versa.  Accept the consequences for your choices but don’t attack your self-esteem or label yourself bad if you make a mistake.

  7. Personalization – you think that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you.
    Alternatives:  What is your evidence?  Check it out before you conclude it’s about you.  It may have nothing to do with you.

  8. Self-Comparison – you compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc. in order to determine your worth.  Sometimes you win and really outshine someone, but when you lose you set yourself up for a blow to your self-esteem.
    Alternatives:  Does your worth depend on being better than others?  Why start the comparison game?

  9. Shoulds – you have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act.  People who break the rules anger you; if you violate the rules you feel guilty.
    Alternatives:  Flexible rules and values.  Replace “should” with “could”.  Be tolerant of self and others.  Your personal values are just that – personal.  People aren’t the same.

  10. Being Right – you are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct.  If you’ve always got to be right, you don’t listen because it may lead you to see that you are wrong sometimes.
    Alternatives:  Listen!  You may not have all the answers; there isn’t always one right answer.  Focus on what you can learn from someone else’s opinion.

Remember to Think Small

Think Small Icon and LinkWhat's one small thing you can do to reduce your stress? Try it as an experiment and see what happens. You can always go back to your old way of doing things.




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