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Day Twenty-Five: Twisted Thinking

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Because we are using our thinking to manifest our millions, I thought it might be really helpful to make sure that our thinking is on track. Here is a list of ten forms of twisted thinking, all of which can lead to anxiety, depression, procrastination, and lack.

1. All or nothing thinking: You see things in black or white categories. If a sitaution falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.

2. Over-generalization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat by using words such as "always" or "never".

3. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water.

4. Discounting the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count". Discounting the positive takes the joy out of life and makes you feel inadequate and unrewarded.

5. Jumping to conclusions: You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusions. Mind reading: without checking it out, you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward you. Fortune Telling: You predict things will turn out badly.

6. Magnification: You exaggerate the importance of your problems and shortcomings, or you minimize the importance of your desireable qualities.

7. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are. "I feel terrified about going on airplanes. It must be very dangerous to fly." or "I feel guilty, I must be a rotten person."

8. "Should" statements: Should statements that are directed toward yourself lead to guilt and frustration. Should statements directed at others lead to anger and frustration. "Shoulds" and "musts" make you feel rebellious and you get the urge to do just the opposite.

9. Labeling: Labeling is an extreme form of all or nothing thinking. Instead of saying "I made a mistake" you might label yourself as a "loser" or a "failure". Labeling is quite irrational because you are not the same as what you do. Labels are useless abstractions that lead to anger, anxiety, frustration, and low self esteem.

10. Personalization and blame: Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn't entirely under your control. Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy.
from The Feeling Good Handbook
by David D. Burns


Cindy H said...

I think the one that gets me the most is the "should" statements - I agree, they lead to anger and frustration and do make me want to do the opposite!

Anonymous said...

Here lately, I have been doing all of the above, in excess, and every day. I used to be pretty good at noticing when I was "labeling" and "magnifying" etc. But somewhere along the line I slipped back into old habits... and now it's a full blown mess.

Anonymous said...

You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water"
I believe we could so easily get into where we could have been instead of making best of our current existence because many times it does not get any better...
uh i was doing it again!

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