Common Cognitive Distortions

  • All or Nothing Thinking: Seeing things in black or white, “either/or” only.
  • Overgeneralizing: Excessive use of words like “always,” “never,” “everything,” “everybody,” “nobody”.
  • Mental Filter: Distorted vision of all reality, based on one negative detail.
  • Disqualifying the Positive: Rejecting positive information by insisting it “doesn’t count”.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: (a) Mind reading, making assumptions, (b) predicting the future, anticipating things will turn out badly.
  • Catastrophizing or Minimizing: Exaggerating possible harm or shrinking importance of a fact or reality.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Assuming negative emotions reflect fact.
  • Shoulds: Ironclad rules for yourself and others.
  • Global Labeling: Making one negative detail about the WHOLE person – you or the other.
  • Personalizing: Seeing yourself as the cause of some negative external event.
  • Fallacy of Change: You expect others to change to suit you if you just pressure them enough. Your hope for happiness depends entirely on this.
  • Fallacy of Fairness: You are upset because “life is not fair”.
  • Fallacy of Control: You feel externally controlled – “victim”, or that you are responsible for pain and happiness of everyone around you.
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: Heaven will reward your sacrifice and self-denial.
  • Being Right: Being wrong is unthinkable even if being right makes you miserable.
  • Blaming: You hold others responsible for your pain, or blame yourself entirely for the problem.