Cognitive behavioral Thought Errors

“Thought Errors” definition: irrational and self defeating thoughts that lead one to feel bad or that  lead to intrusions in ones life.
Thought Errors”,aka “Thinking Errors“, “cognitive distortions”… from a Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (or C.B.T) point of view, are not meant to be a judgment of ones intelligence. Rather they are intrusive behavior-like forms of thought to be aware of ,and from the the C.B.T. View point, to be worked through rationally.

For people who manage disorders, Such as Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression and Anxiety Disorders: “thought errors” can build and snowball into more harmful or intrusive thoughts, feelings or behaviors, so learning to catch them (and eventually correct them) is a useful tool in staying well.

Personally I prefer the Gestalt therapy way of managing my mental wellness, (holistic awareness of mind/body/behavior and processes ), However every Mental Wellness manager is different. Plus, the awareness of ; and working through of ….Thought Errors is a useful tool of any management.

Common Thought or Thinking Errors:

Emotional reasoning – rationalizing a fact out of feeling.

. “I feel bad, therefore I am a bad person.

  • I feel bad right now, but everyone feels bad, sad , ugly, or angry sometimes. “Feeling bad Is not a reason to judge myself as a bad person.”

Catastrophizing – concluding the worst possible outcome of a potential situation, no matter how likey the possibility.

My son is out with the car and is late. He’s been in an accident!

  • There are many possibilities why my son is late. He could be held up in traffic, which is more likely”.

Personalizing. self – judgment : Blaming one self for something that isn’t their fault.

My Son failed his exam at school. This is my fault.

  • I am responsible for myself, and can only control so many things.

Black / White Rigid Thinking – One divides everything into good and bad, right or wrong, all or nothing.

I wish I could work at that place, its the perfect dream job

  • Everyone and Every situation(including jobs) has qualities and difficulties. Thinking A place or person job or situation, will be entirely perfect or entirely dismal will lead to disappointment.

Should statements: self -judgment and top dogging oneself.

I should be doing more with my life, right now.”

  • Although its important to wish, and to hope: Saying what I should be doing is self judging, and takes me away from who I am and can lead to resentments.

Over-Labeling: Applying an adjective or a descriptive trait of someone or something and assuming it is the whole of it.

he is a conservative…. he is a Liberal…. she is an academic

  • Someone may be conservative or liberal, etc, or have some values as such. But believing that some traits make the whole of something may lead me to the wrong overall conclusions or prejudgments.

Some other Thought or “Thinking Errors”:
Leaping (to conclusions) – assuming the outcomes of events without evidence or information.
Mind reading – assuming what another person is thinking or feeling, without asking.
Magnifying– 1.blowing out of proportion your error, or another persons success 2 overstating a situation.
Minimizing – 1. denying ones own success and qualities. 2 denying the consequences of an action.

Thought Errors (aka cognitive distortions)  are difficult to “catch” or be mindful of, at first. They are common to everyone, can be long standing thought behaviors and often come with a lot of emotion connect to them.
Catching them, or being mindful of them, can be improved by journaling, Mental Health Work books, or asking a therapist to help design plans.


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

4 Responses to Cognitive behavioral Thought Errors

  1. rainbowheartlove says:

    The first time that I read through the list, I felt like someone had read my thoughts. I seem to have a natural tendency to almost if not all of the thinking errors that CBT lists. I don’t care for the “irrational” errors of Rational Emotive Therapy though. I haven’t read anything on Gestalt. I may visit your link on that. I think my counselor had a thing for CBT. One of my counselors did have a thing for REBT but I don’t like it. It feel very harsh to me. The ABCs part is nice but the use of the word “irrational” annoys me.

    • chris says:

      Everybody is different and what works for one person… may not work for the next.

      This means that people respond differently to different therapies, and it can take awhile to find a therapy to be comfortable with.

      Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience, Rainbowheartlove.

  2. Pingback: Rain, Shine, Catastrophization « Pennsylvania Echoes

  3. Pingback: Subvocalization, Inner Speech and Intrusive Thinking « Pennsylvania Echoes

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