Here is a list of dysfunctional thoughts from Cognitive Therapy.
Pioneered by Arron Beck, M.D., the basis premise from cognitive therapy
is that our thoughts create our emotions and feelings.
As discussed on our emotions
page, we have some concerns about this premise from the standpoint that
emotions are basic and primal. However, in humans, there is no doubt
that our thoughts can greatly influence our emotions.
You can read more about cognitive therapy, dysfunctional thoughts, and
depression in Feeling
Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated.
Countering dysfunctional thinking with rational (as in left
brain) reasoning can be very helpful and effective for some clients.
This approach can be especially effective for mood disorders of
So here is a list of dysfunctional thoughts:
THINKING: You see things in black-and-white categories.
if your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a
2. OVERGENRALIZATION: You interpret a single negative event as a
non-ending pattern of defeat.
3. MENTAL FILTER: Picking out a single negative detail and dwell
(obsess) on it, coloring all the positive details.
THE POSITIVE: Rejecting positive experiences and feedback, saying that
they, “don’t count,” or putting yourself down.
5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: Making a negative interpretation even though
there are no real facts that support your conclusions.
Reading- You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting
negatively to you and you do not bother to check it out.
b. The Fortune Teller Error- You anticipate something bad will happen
and are convinced your prediction is already sealed.
(CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: Exaggerating the importance of
things, such as a goof-up or someone else’s accomplishment, or you
inappropriately reduce the importance of your abilities or
7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: Assuming that your
negative emotions reflect the way things really are: “I feel this way,
therefore that must be the way things are.”
8. SHOULD STATEMENTS:
Trying to motivate yourself with “should,” “must,” and “ought to”
statements. Whipping or beating yourself up to try to force yourself to
behave, think, or feel a certain way. This leads to feelings of guilt.
When shoulds or ought’s are directed toward others, you feel anger,
frustration, and resentment.
9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: An
extreme form of overgeneralization, attaching a negative label to
yourself or others. “I’m a loser.”
10. PERSONALIZATION: You see
yourself as the cause of some negative event when in reality, you had
little to do with it. Taking responsibility for a negative event even
though you are not responsible.
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