So often, we trust our reasoning. I mean, why would our logical mind lie to us? Unfortunately, we oftentimes base our logic on our own sensitivities and perceptions, and not on the facts. Our thoughts can easily be blundered and we don’t even realize it. “Feeling Good Handbook”, by Beck and Burns scopes out these problems, identifying at least 11 mistakes in our thinking. Maybe if we can catch these mistakes, we will be more rational and have an easier time with ourselves and in our relationships. The following is a list of common reasoning blunders, or better known as Cognitive Distortions:
1. All-or-Nothing Thinking / Polarized Thinking, without finding a middle ground (e.g., “I have to get all A’s or I’m a failure”
2. Overgeneralization, or taking one instance and making across-the-board statements (e.g., “I burned the potatoes, so the whole meal was a disaster”).
3. Mental Filter, or despite all being positive except for one, all is negative (e.g., “Because I received a warning, although I never got a ticket in all the years of driving, I’m a poor driver”).
4. Disqualifying the Positive, or rejecting positive feedback vs. embracing them (e.g., “He is just saying I’m an excellent employee because he is trying to be nice”).
5. Jumping to Conclusions – Mind Reading, or believing that you know what others are thinking with negative interpretations (e.g., “They are not looking at me when they pass me by because they don’t like me and are avoiding me”).
6. Jumping to Conclusions – Fortune Telling, or making conclusions/predictions with little to no evidence (e.g., “I’ll never get married because none of my dating experiences”).
7. Magnification (Catastrophizing) or Minimization, or exaggerating or minimizing the importance of the meaning of things (e.g., “I dropped the ball when playing sports, so I’ll never be a good player”, or “I got the last point in the game, but it was just luck – I’m not that good of a player”).
8. Emotional Reasoning, or letting emotions be your logic (e.g., “I feel angry, so what is happening right now is unjustified”).
9. Should Statements, or feeling guilty if the “shoulds” aren’t done (e.g., “I should have called and maybe everything would have been ok”
10. Labeling and Mislabeling, or judging someone based on one instance or experience (e.g., “He is a lazy bum” when individual is mislabeled and instead had sleeping problems for the past couple nights)
11. Personalization, or taking things personal when they aren’t meant to be (e.g., “We didn’t have fun last night because I was late”
“Blunder catching” is a way to help keep ourselves more logical when emotions get in the way. It is good mental health and it does make it easier to deal with ourselves and our relationships.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW
St. William’s Mental Health