Wednesday, July 20, 2011

15 Styles of Distorted Thinking

[NOTE: I did not write any of this! It's from a worksheet they had us do in therapy one day. I'm posting it here because I want y'all to read it -- well, obviously, but shut up. My point is that, if you regularly do more than half of these things, chances are you might be depressed.]

FILTERING You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all the positive aspects in any situation.

POLARIZED THINKING* Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you're a failure. There is no middle ground.

OVERGENERALIZATION* You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once you expect it to happen over and over and over again, even in a different situation.

MIND READING Without being told, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to infer how people feel about YOU.

CATASTROPHIZING You expect disaster to happen at any moment, even in the middle of the best day ever. You notice or hear about a problem and start playing the "what if" game: What if tragedy strikes? What if tragedy strikes YOU?

PERSONALIZATION Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to convince yourself who is or who isn't smarter, better looking, etc.

CONTROL FALLACIES If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control makes you feel responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you, even when these things have little or nothing to do with YOU.

FALLACY OF FAIRNESS You feel resentful because you think you know what's fair, but no one ever seems to agree with YOU.

BLAMING You hold other people responsible for your pain, or you blame yourself for each and every little thing that's wrong, even if all you do is hear about it.

"THE SHOULDS" You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act at any given time or in any given situation. People who break the rules annoy you (even if they don't know about the rules), and you feel guilty as a whore in church if you violate the rules.

EMOTIONAL REASONING You believe that what you feel must be the truth. For example, if you feel stupid, you must be stupid.

FALLACY OF CHANGE You expect that everyone will change to suit you if you just pressure them enough (bonus points if you do so indirectly, you master manipulator, you!). You feel compelled to change people because your hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

GLOBAL LABELING You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.

BEING RIGHT* You are constantly "on trial" to prove that YOUR opinions and YOUR actions are correct. Being wrong is something that you like to think only happens to other people.

"HEAVEN'S REWARD" FALLACY You expect that all of your sacrifice and self-denial will pay off, as if someone somewhere is keeping score. You feel bitter when your richly deserved reward doesn't come when you think it should.

adapted from "Thoughts & Feelings," McKay & Davis [whoever they are]

*These things are the only ones I didn't think were a huge problem for me.


  1. Man, I really wish I could show this to my mother without being incredibly obvious and critical.

  2. Me too! I hope you can figure out a way to make that happen.