Ten Forms of Distorted Thinking

Posted on December 3, 2014

Things aren’t always as they seem to be.  We frame our perceptions of things based on what we believe, to be true.  Aaron Beck, the psychiatrist who brought us the Beck Depression Inventory, created this list of various ways that our thinking gets twisted.  The truth becomes hard to discern when we engage in these thoughts:

  •  All-or-Nothing Thinking – It’s a black-and-white world.  It is or it isn’t.  It is this way or that way.  There are no shades of gray, in this category.
  • Overgeneralization – If it happened once, it will always happen that way.
  • Mental Filter – The negatives overshadow a positive spin on events and circumstances and the propensity is to dwell in the reasons why we believe the negative point of view is the truth.
  • Discounting the Positives  – My accomplishment is due to luck rather than anything I did to contribute to it.
  • Jumping to Conclusions – Making assumptions without weighing the evidence.  This one includes mind reading and fortune telling.
  • Magnification or Minimization – Perceiving that something is more or less than it is.
  • Emotional Reasoning – I feel like an idiot, therefore I am what I feel.
  • Should StatementsThere are many relatives to should, including, could, ought, and must.  Look for the shaming language when you use this word.  Choose to do something because it is good for you rather than the fact that you should.
  • Labeling – Admitting I made a mistake comes out more like I’m a loser or I’m really stupid.
  • Blame – The Blame Game takes many forms, including taking responsibility that is not yours and blaming others, without taking personal responsibility. 

My clients have noted that if they utilize one of these distortions another one is there, to feed it.  It is helpful to rethink the thoughts that always get us stuck and check in with our mentors, pastors, therapists, and trusted friends, for ways to restructure our thinking.  If we do, our outlook on life will become easier for us and it will be easier on those around us, to live with us.

Written by: Cheryl Vance, LMFT

Cheryl is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Indianapolis. She specializes in relational issues such as personality, communication, and spiritual growth. If you would like to contact Cheryl, she can be reached at Cheryl@groffandassociates.com or 317-474-6448 ext. 106.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==