A common everyday battle is overcoming thinking errors. Thinking errors can affect anyone whether you are currently in the midst of a mental health crisis, in recovery, or have not had a personal experience with mental illness before. Our thoughts influence the way we feel and the way we behave. Believing in irrational thoughts can lead to a variety of problems, including relationship problems, poor communication, and poor decision making. We all experience thinking errors sometimes. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these 10 categories, which are adapted from David Burns’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy.
- All-or-Nothing Thinking Black and white thinking means that there is no gray in your thinking. Everything is right or wrong, and there is not room for improvement as that would mean you failed.
- Overgeneralizing – You take one incident and overgeneralize how it applies to other situations,
- Filtering Out the Positive – If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, we filter out the good and concentrate of the bad.
- Mind-Reading – We occasionally assume we know what must be going on in someone else’s mind.
- Catastrophizing – Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are.
- Emotional Reasoning – Our emotions aren’t always based on reality.
- Labeling – Labeling involves putting a name to something, and putting people and experiences into categories.
- Fortune-telling – These thoughts can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Personalization – It’s sometimes easy to take everything personally, and make it about yourself.
- Unreal Ideal – Comparing ourselves unfairly to others can ruin our motivation.
Once you begin recognizing thinking errors, you can start challenging your thoughts. Gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then begin replacing those thoughts with more realistic thoughts. This will take a lot of effort at first, but eventually you will look at things differently, and you will be able to reach your goals..