Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ten Cognitive (Thinking) Traps

1     All or nothing thinking:
You see things in black & white categories & there are no shades of grey. If a situation is less than perfect you see it as a total failure.

2.       Overgeneralization:
Here, one unfortunate event leads to the assumption that this will happen every time, but remember there is no justification for seeing one instance as proving the rule. Recognised by thinking involving the words always or never.

3.       Mental Filter:
You pick out a single negative detail & dwell on it exclusively. One word of critics eradicates all the praise you have received.

4.       Disqualifying the positive:
You reject the positive experiences by insisting they don’t count, maybe they are a fluke. If you do a good job, you tell yourself it was easy, or anyone could have done it.

5.       Jumping to conclusions:
You interpret things negatively when there are no facts to support your conclusion. Two common variations are mind-reading (you arbitrarily assume that someone is reacting negatively to you), & fortune telling (You predict that things will turn out badly).

6.       Catastrophising :
You exaggerate the importance of your own problems & shortcomings to disaster proportions – “I made a mistake, how awful; I can never show myself here again.” Do you feel this way about other people when you see them make a mistake?

7.       Emotional Reasoning:
You take your feelings as facts, assuming your negative emotions reflect the way things really are, as in “I feel guilty, so I must be a rotten person”, or “I feel anxious, so there must be some real danger.”

8.       Should statements:
Based upon out assumptions, you think you should be perfect all the time, should never make a fuss or never get angry. You may assume others should always be able to anticipate your needs, or this is proof they don’t care for you.

9.       Labelling:
An extreme form of all or nothing thinking, you label yourself as a ‘useless person’ on the basis of one mistake. It makes as much sense labelling yourself a joiner, because you put up a shelf.

10.   Personalisation & blame:
You hold yourself personally responsible for events that aren’t entirely under your control, & which may involve others’ actions or decisions making too.

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