Definitions of Cognitive Distortions
1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black and white categories. If
your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending
pattern of defeat.
3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively
so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors
the entire beaker of water.
4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting
they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative
belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though
there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusions.
a. Mind Reading. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively
to you, and you don’t bother to check this out.
b. The FortuneTeller Error. You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and
you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.
6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate
the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement). Or
you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities
or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily
reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."
8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts,
as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do
anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is
guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration,
9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of over-generalization.
Instead of describing your err