A while back I got a list of what have been referred to as the 10 Cognitive Distortions. The list I have is from a book titled Feeling Good, by David Burns. Instead of typing the whole list up, I looked online and wikipedia has a version that while slightly different in the write ups, is the exact same list. It can be found in full here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_distortion. This list is very insightful. It is amazing how much of this we fall prey to every day in our lives. When I read it through the first time I began to realize that while there are some of these that I do more than others, I have fallen for all of them. It was very helpful to see it in black and white. So here it is. Enjoy!
- All-or-nothing thinking – Thinking of things in absolute terms, like “always”, “every” or “never”. Few aspects of human behavior are so absolute.
- Overgeneralization – Taking isolated cases and using them to make wide generalizations.
- Mental filter – Focusing exclusively on certain, usually negative or upsetting, aspects of something while ignoring the rest, like a tiny imperfection in a piece of clothing.
- Disqualifying the positive – Continually “shooting down” positive experiences for arbitrary, ad hoc reasons.
- Jumping to conclusions – Assuming something negative where there is no evidence to support it. Two specific subtypes are also identified:
a. Mind reading – Assuming the intentions of others.
b. Fortune telling – Predicting how things will turn before they happen.
- Magnification and Minimization – Inappropriately understating or exaggerating the way people or situations truly are. Often the positive characteristics of other people are exaggerated and negative characteristics are understated. There is one subtype of magnification:
Catastrophizing – Focusing on the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or thinking that a
situation is unbearable or impossible when it is really just uncomfortable.
- Emotional reasoning – Making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality.
- Making should statements – Concentrating on what you think “should” or ought to be rather than the actual situation you are faced with, or having rigid rules which you think should always apply no matter what the circumstances are.
- Labeling – Explaining behaviors or events, merely by naming them; related to overgeneralization. Rather than describing the specific behavior, you assign a label to someone or yourself that puts them in absolute and unalterable terms.
- Personalization (or attribution) – Assuming you or others directly caused things when that may not have been the case. When applied to others, blame is an example.
Tags: all or nothing, catastrophizing, cognitive distortions, David Burns, disqualifying the positive, emotional reasoning, Feeling Good, jumping to conclusions, labeling and mislabeling, magnification, mental filter, mind reading, minimizing, overgeneralization, personalization, should statements, th fortune teller error