10 Common “Thinking Traps”

1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking -Seeing things in black or white categories -A situation is perfect or a total failure -There’s no in-between *Alternatives: -Consider things on a continuum, rather than in “Either-Or” terms -Consider degrees of improvement or decline, rather than absolute terms -Think in terms of “Better or Worse,” rather than “Good or Bad” 2. Overgeneralization -Using a single event as a sign of never-ending patterns -Using words like “always” or “never” -Making broad generalizations that everyone/everything/every time will be a certain way *Alternatives: -Remember that one event may just be one event -Things, circumstances, people may change -Remember that very few things are as absolute as “always” and “never” make us feel 3. Mental Filter -Picking out one detail and focusing exclusively on that one piece of a larger puzzle -Focusing on one piece of information and allowing all other information to slip by you -Filtering out certain information (e.g., positives) and only grabbing onto other information (e.g., negatives) *Alternatives: -Be on the lookout for other information, counter-arguments, additional evidence -Consider all pieces of the puzzle, not just the ones that “come through your filter” first 4. Discounting the Positive -Rejecting positive experiences by saying that they “don’t count” -Explaining away your success instead of taking credit for it and celebrating it -Dismissing positive experiences or good work *Alternatives: -Give positive experiences just as much credit (or more!) as negative ones -Enjoy, celebrate, and feel the positive experiences -Consider evidence objectively, without skewing or weighting certain types of evidence

even without the evidence to support your conclusions -Mind Reading: Without checking it out.” and “have tos” *Alternatives: -Try replacing Should with Could -Re-evaluate what really goes on the “Should List” (I should take my medicine. -If you feel anxious about something. you think that means that it actually is dangerous.” “oughts. “Should” Statements -Telling yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be -Should statements directed against yourself lead to guilt and frustration for “letting yourself down” from the “Should Standard” -Should statements directed against other people or the world in general lead to anger and frustration because others can’t live up to your “Should Expectations” -Similar statements are “musts. limitations. I should pay my taxes vs. you think that means that you must actually be hopeless. while minimizing the importance of positive qualities. and support *Alternatives: -Pay attention to perspective -Carefully weigh all evidence. you conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you. or shortcomings. not just certain pieces of the puzzle 7. *Alternatives: -Test out your “emotional thoughts” with other evidence as well -Look for opportunities to balance all of your different kinds of thoughts. strengths.5. Emotional Reasoning -Assuming that negative feelings actually reflect the way things really are in the world *Examples: -If you feel hopeless. Jumping to Conclusions -Interpreting things negatively. I should be perfect. as if you can read their mind without having them actually tell you. People should be more polite) . Magnification -Also known as “The Binocular Trick” -Exaggerating the importance of problems. rather than facts 6. rather than relying on only one type of thinking 8. -Fortune Telling: Predicting that things are going to go badly in the future *Alternatives: -Acknowledge what you know and what you don’t know -Consider alternative explanations or hypotheses -Treat thoughts about others and the future as guesses.

“I keep getting grounded because my mother is totally unreasonable!” *Alternatives: -Consider how complex the world is…very few things happen totally as a result of one person or one event. work on being solutions-focused (How can we fix this?). besides the possibility that I am just a failure?) 10. shame. “I made a mistake. you may describe them as being “bad” or as having a problem with their character rather than their behavior. and feeling inadequate. Personalization can lead to guilt. consider other ideas.9. -Instead of being blame-focused (Who is at fault for this problem we’re having?). she tells herself. Labeling -Labeling is an extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking where you attach a label to yourself based on one thing you did. “I don’t like how you’re acting. think about all the evidence before settling on just one person to carry the blame. which leaves little room for healthy communication or problem solving. “This shows what a bad mother I am!” -The opposite of personalization is blame. *Example: -Instead of saying. Labeling is a thinking trap because you are not the same as what you do. where you blame other people or circumstances for your problems and completely overlook ways that you might be contributing to the problem. *Example: -When a woman finds out that her daughter is having trouble in school. .” you attach a label: “You’re a jerk!” *Alternatives: -Describe behaviors rather than labeling people -Consider counter-evidence before labeling (Am I really a failure because I made one mistake? Have others ever made mistakes before without being a total failure? Did anything contribute to my mistake. *Example: -Instead of saying. *Example: -A teenager says.” you attach a label: “I’m a loser” or “I’m a failure” -When labeling other people. -Look for other contributing factors. Personalization and Blame -Personalization is when you hold yourself responsible for an event that isn’t totally under your control.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful