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TIP: Types of Distorted Thinking


Strong feelings can impact a person’s ability to think rationally, especially when those emotions are connected to a particular relationship or situation. Distorted thoughts are not unusual. Being able to identify and understand those distorted thoughts can prevent them from becoming a habit that impacts emotional health. Below are some examples of distorted thinking, can you relate to any of them?

  • Negative Thinking: Only seeing the negative side of a situation and discounting anything positive. This person sees the glass half empty.
  • Jumping to Conclusions: Not knowing all the facts or giving someone a chance to explain their side. It’s difficult for this person to trust others and often focuses on reading between the lines of what is being said to them.
  • Black or White Thinking: There is no middle ground. It’s either all good or all bad. This person frequently uses words like “always” or “never.”
  • Blaming: Anything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault. This person can’t own up or accept that they might share in any responsibility for a problem.
  • Exaggerating: Everything is the best, or it is the worst. When this person shares a story it is hard to know what to believe or how to react.
  • Crisis Thinking: Everything is a potential catastrophe or disaster. This person is filled with gloom and doom, and frequently thinks, “What if this happens?” What if that happens?”
  • Always Being Right: Being wrong is unthinkable. This person thinks they are the smartest person in the room, and will spend much energy convincing you why they are right and you are wrong.
  • Overgeneralizing: Assuming after one negative event occurs, the same thing will continue to happen every time. This person has a difficult time forgiving and forgetting if someone does them wrong.
  • Overanalyzing: Thinking too much about a certain situation and all its different angles. This person has a hard time turning off thoughts while a problem or comment replays itself in their mind.
  • Should Statements: Believing that there is an ironclad list of rules a for how people should act and feel. This person gets angry at others who break rules, and feels guilty when they are not perfect themselves.

You likely can remember having similar thoughts to one or more of these examples at some point in your life. There is also a strong possibility that while you read through the list, you thought of a certain friend or family member. Again these thoughts are not unusual and can certainly be managed.​​​

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