Anxiety gives us distorted thinking that is usually hard to ignore. Anxiety is like having a bully in our brain. We may know that our anxious or ocd thoughts aren’t likely yet may still hold onto the doubt of the possible “what if” scenario. Anxious thoughts are hard to shake off. Yet, once we realize that those thoughts are simply thoughts and understand the difference between logical and illogical (anxious) thinking, then we can more easily shake off these anxiety-ridden thoughts with anxiety. For OCD specifically, the less anxiety there is, the less the obsessive thoughts will pop up into our misfiring brain.


According to the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach, at some time or other, we all make the following errors of thinking:

  1. All or Nothing Thinking: looking at things/situations in black and white (e.g., thinking you can’t trust anybody ever if one person betrayed your trust).

  2. Overgeneralization: one thing goes badly and you think that everything in your life is bad and will remain bad.

  3. Magnification or Minimization: blowing things out of proportion or denying their importance
  4. Jumping to Conclusions:
  5. (a) mind-reading/being clairvoyant: thinking you know what other people are thinking (e.g., assuming people don’t like you when you have no proof of this).
  6. (b) fortune-telling: predicting that things will not go well when you have no objective way of knowing that.

  7. Mental Filter: focusing on the negatives while ignoring the positives.

  8. Discounting the Positives: not recognizing your accomplishments or good things in your life (e.g., earning a good grade and saying it was an easy test).

  9. Personalization: blaming yourself for something you are not responsible for (e.g., sometimes children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce).

  10. Labeling: giving yourself a negative label such as, “I am a failure” instead of recognizing that you just made a mistake (i.e., not distinguishing yourself from your action).

  11. Emotional Reasoning: basing decisions or self-perception on emotions e.g., “I feel like a loser, so I must be one” or “I don’t feel like doing this (urgent) thing, so I’ll put it off.”

  12. Using “Should Statements”:  When you use “Should,” “Shouldn’t,” “must,” “have to,” and “Ought to,” you are criticizing yourself or making others feel defensive.