Thinking Errors

Thinking Errors

In the book by David Burns, M.D., Feeling Good:  The New Mood Therapyhe talks about cognitive distortions.  Cognitive distortions are defined as inaccurate or distorted thinking errors.  Most individuals struggle with thinking errors.  It is difficult to always perceive the world in a clear and accurate way.  When we identify and recognize this problem, we are able to challenge our inaccurate thoughts in a constructive way and make observations that are more accurate.

The following is a list of 10 thinking errors identified by Dr. Burns:

All or nothing thinking:  You look at things in absolute, back and white categories.

Over generalization:  You view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

Mental filter:  You dwell on the negatives.

Discounting the positives:  You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don’t count.

Jumping to conclusions:

A.  Mind-reading:  you assume that people are reacting negatively to you when there’s no definite evidence;

B.  Fortune-telling:  you arbitrarily predict that things will turn out badly.

Magnification or minimization:  You blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance.

Emotional reasoning:  You reason from how you feel:  “I feel like an idiot, so I really must be one.”

“Should statements”:  You criticize yourself ( or other people) with “shoulds,” “oughts,” “musts” and “have tos.”

Labeling:  Instead of saying “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I’m a jerk,” or “a fool,” or “a loser.”

Personalization and blame:  You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and deny your role in the problem.

Dr. Burns identifies 10 of the most common cognitive distortions or thinking errors; however, there are many other distortions that people struggle with.  Please look through the website to identify other thinking errors.

Hope you find this information useful and informative.


Dr. Steven Chen

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