Distorted Thinking

Distorted Thinking

Explaining Distorted Thinking:
Did you know you FEEL the way you THINK?!

Learn some simple ideas to change your life! (adapted from Burns 1992)

  1. The way you THINK will result in how you FEEL – negative feelings like depression, anxiety, and anger do not actually result from bad things that happen to you but from the way you think about these events.
  2. Most BAD feelings come from ILLOGICAL thoughts (distorted thinking).
  3. You can CHANGE the way you FEEL.


  • All or nothing thinking – you look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.
  • Overgeneralization – you view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  • Mental Filter – you dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.
  • Discounting the positives – you insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don’t count.
  • Jumping to conclusions – you conclude things are bad without any definite evidence
    • Mind reading: You assume that people are reacting negatively to you.
    • Fortune telling: You predict that things will turn out badly.
  • Magnification or minimization – you blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance.
  • Emotional reasoning – you reason from how you feel: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one”
  • “Should” statements – you criticize yourself or other people with “shoulds” “shouldn’ts” “musts” “oughts” and “have-tos”
  • Labelling – instead of saying, “I made a mistake” you tell yourself “I’m a jerk” or “a loser” or “I’m an idiot” etc.
  • Blame – you blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook ways that you were part of a problem.