Thoughts Are Not Facts

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:
    1. (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).
    2. (b) fortune-telling: predicting that things will not go well when you have no objective way of knowing that.
  5. Mental Filter: focusing on the negatives while ignoring the positives.
  6. 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).
  7. Personalization: blaming yourself for something you are not responsible for (e.g., sometimes children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce).
  8. 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).
  9. 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.”
  10. Using “Should Statements”:  When you use “Should,” “Shouldn’t,” “must,” “have to,” and “Ought to,” you are criticizing yourself or making others feel defensive.


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