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Ten Ways We Distort Our Thoughts

By: Cheryl K. Iannucci

  1. All-or-nothing thinking is black-and-white thinking. It seeks perfection. It is unrealistic.
  2. Over-generalizing is believing that something will happen over and over because it happened once.
  3. Mental filtering is picking out a negative detail in a situation and dwelling on it until the whole situation appears negative.
  4. Disqualifying the positive is when we turn something positive into a negative. For example, if Susan compliments Jill on her appearance and Jill says, "Oh, you're just saying that," then Jill is disqualifying the positive.
  5. Jumping to conclusions is when we jump to a negative result, either by making assumptions (mind-reading) or making negative predictions.
  6. Magnifying and minimizing are when we perceive things out of proportion. We exaggerate (magnify) them or dismiss (minimize) them.
  7. Emotional reasoning is when we interpret our emotions as truths and make it hard for others to convince us otherwise.
  8. "Should" statements are when we motivate ourselves by what we feel we should and shouldn't do. It's as if we believe we should be punished for doing or not doing certain things.
  9. Labeling is when we create a completely negative self-image based on our errors. This is self-defeating and irrational thinking.
  10. Personalizing is when we assume responsibility (guilt) for negative events or treatment beyond our control. Ninety percent or our problems are caused by our own thoughts!

Posted December 9, 2002

Social Development and The Adolescent Cheryl K. Iannucci p.15 Landmark School, Inc. 2002