• Cognitive Distortions

    Also known as "Thinking Mistakes"


    These are patterns of thinking that we all often find ourselves getting into on a regular basis. They can cause us to become more emotionally vulnerable and feeling stuck in our emotion mind. We can get out of these patterns by challenging ourselves to think in different ways and getting different perspectives on situations.

    1. ALL OR NOTHING THINKING: If you’re not perfect, you’re a total loser. If you don’t get everything you want, it feels like you got nothing. If you’re having a good day, the rest of your life is perfect and you don’t need therapy anymore.


    Alternative thinking: Challenge yourself to take a look at other viewpoints and interpretations of the situation


    2. OVERGENERALIZATION: One thing goes wrong and your whole life suddenly becomes one lousy thing after another.


    Alternative thinking: Question if evidence exists that things could be different


    3. MENTAL FILTER: You develop selective hearing and vision and only hear and see the one tiny negative thing surrounded by the many positive things.


    Alternative thinking: Look for the good in every situation.


    4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: The good stuff doesn’t count because the rest of your life is miserable.


    Alternative thinking: Challenge yourself to find reasons you are deserving and capable.


    5. MAGNIFICATION/MINIMIZATION: The “screw ups” or losses are HUGE and the good stuff or your positive qualities are nearly invisible.


    Alternative thinking: Question if things are truly as bad as you make them out to be.


    6. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You should on yourself. That line always gets a laugh out of my clients. But it is relatable in all contexts because we all do it. You start beating yourself up with all the “shoulds.” “I SHOULD be able to deal with this better.” “I SHOULD be able to handle this.” “I SHOULD have said this or that.”


    Alternative thinking: Question if things need to be done in a certain way. Is there another way you haven’t considered?


    7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You start thinking your emotions are fact. You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”


    Alternative thinking: Question if your emotional state is preventing you from seeing things clearly.



    a.) Mind Reading: You suddenly become a psychic mind reader. You know the answer to everything without even asking. You know that people have it in for you. Everything you try is going to turn out miserably.
    b.) Fortune Telling: You know that any question you ask, the answer will be NO!


    Alternative thinking: Question if other possibilities or explanations exist.


    9. LABELING/MISLABELING: An extreme form of over-generalization. You use extreme language to describe things. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself or others.


    Alternative thinking: Challenge yourself to find the evidence that disproves the label you are making in this situation.


    10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as the cause for things you have absolutely no control over or the target of things that may have nothing to do with you. “It’s all about me” but not in a good way.


    Alternative thinking: Question what part you played in the outcome and how you might not be totally to blame.

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    This website is intended for information and educational purposes only. No information presented is intended for counseling or treatment. Use of this website does not form a counseling relationship. For more information please contact me at blair@helpwithdbt.com