You see things in black/white categories - in

   absolute terms, like ‘never, always, there’s

   no alternative’.  If your performance falls

   short of perfect, you think you’re a total

   failure & ultimately leads to depression

John recently applied for a promotion in his firm. The

job went to another employee with more experience. John wanted this job badly and now believes that he will never be promoted. He feels that he is a total failure

in his career.


   You take isolated cases & use them to explain

   everything, seeing a single negative as a

   never-ending pattern of defeat

Linda is lonely and often spends most of her time at home. Her friends sometimes ask her to come out for dinner and meet new people. Linda feels that that is it useless to try to meet people. No one really could like her. People are all mean and superficial anyway.


   You focus on specific negative or upsetting

   aspects of an event, while ignoring other

   positive aspects. You dwell on it exclusively,

   so your vision of all reality becomes

   darkened, like a drop of ink in a glass of


     Mary is having a bad day. As she drives home, a kind  

     gentleman waves her to go ahead of him as she merges

     into traffic. Later in her trip, another driver cuts her off.

     She grumbles to herself that there are nothing but rude

     and insensitive people in her city.


   You continually re-emphasize or shoot down

   positive experiences, rejecting the positive

   ones by insisting they don’t count,  for some

   arbitrary reason that you’ve decided on

Rhonda just had her portrait made. Her friend tells her how beautiful she looks. Rhonda brushes aside the compliment by saying that the photographer must

have touched up the picture. She never looks that

good in real life, she thinks.


   You make decisions & arguments based on

   ‘intuition’ or some emotional feeling rather

   than on objective evidence or rationale. You

   assume that your negative feelings (fear

   based on self-hating thoughts) reflect the

   way things really are - ”If I feel it, it is so”

Laura looks around her untidy house and feels overwhelmed by the prospect of cleaning. She feels

that it's hopeless to even try to clean.


   You see yourself as the cause of some

   negative external event - which you have or

   had no control over -  even though, in fact, 

   you are not responsible for it

Jean's son is doing poorly in school. She feels that

she must be a bad mother. She feels that it's all her

fault that he isn't studying.



These forms of ‘Twisted Thinking’ are the norm in alcoholic families, 
   & so for ACoAs.  They cause untold pain & damage for the ‘thinker’ & 
   to anyone they deal with. They definitely prevent any form of ‘closeness’.

These distortions are also logical fallacies - misconceptions based on incorrect 
   reasoning, which may take advantage of emotional triggers in the listeners & therefore 
   can be used to take advantage of others in all types of relationships, since they’re 
   often couched in what seems like ‘logical arguments’, making it harder to catch /rebut.


   You make a negative interpretation of an

   event, even though there are no facts that

   convincingly support your conclusion

  1. a.MIND READING - You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting to / talking or thinking about you negatively, without checking it out with them

  2. b.FORTUNE TELLING - You anticipate that things will turn out badly & are convinced that your ‘perceiving/ feeling’ the reality of the situation

Chuck is waiting for his date at a restaurant. She's now 20 minutes late. Chuck laments to himself that he must have done something wrong and now she has stood him up. Meanwhile, across town, his date is stuck in traffic.


   You distort the importance of qualities or

   aspects of a situation (or memory) by

   making it more or less than the experience,

   so that it no longer correspond to reality - 

   like “making a mountain out of a molehill’.

--DEPRESSIVES  - you’re likely to over-

   estimate the value of other people & under-

   play their faults

Scott is playing football. He bungles a play that he's been practicing for weeks. He later scores the winning touchdown. His teammates compliment him. He tells them he should have played better; the touchdown was just dumb luck.

--CATASTROPHIZING - You exaggerate & 

    then focus on the worst possible outcome of   

    an event, however unlikely, or think a

    situation is unbearable / impossible, when

    it’s  actually just uncomfortable


   You try to motivate yourself with words like

   ‘should, shouldn’t, must, ought, need to, have

   to’ , as if you have to be punished before you

   can do anything

a. When using this on oneself, our emotional

   reaction is usually guilt

b. When you use this on others, they may well

    react with anger, frustration & resentment

David is sitting in his doctor's waiting room. His doctor is running late. David sits stewing, thinking, "With how much I'm paying him, he should be on time. He ought to have more consideration." He ends up feeling bitter and resentful.



   You explain events or people’s behaviors 

   simply by assigning it a negative word,

   instead of looking at a situation objectively.    

   Rather than describe a specific behavior you

   label yourself or others using an absolute &

   unalterable term

   Mislabeling involves describing something

   in dramatic, overblown language that’s

   emotionally loaded

Donna just cheated on her diet. I'm a fat, lazy pig, she thinks.

Combined from : WIKIPEDIA, 
  ABOUT.com, by Nancy Schimelpfening
  & “FEELING GOOD” by David Burns

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