9 Thinking Errors! Are you guilty of any?

On my door, I had a piece of paper posted. It has been there for the past year. Titled “Thinking Errors”, I acquired it from a friend of mine. He acquired it from his psychologist.

Thinking Errors are more common than you think! Check which ones you hate and which ones you have.

1.            All-or-None (or Black & White) Thinking

Categorizing events or people as either “all good” or “all bad”

You realize you do it when you hear yourself say “always”, “every” or “never”.

e.g. Your partner comments on what you did, you snap: “you always criticize me”.

2.            Overgeneralization –

Drawing sweeping conclusions out of an isolated case.

e.g. You forget to kiss her goodnight so you get the “You do not love me anymore.”

3.            Selective Abstraction (or Mental Filter) –

Focusing exclusively on the negative and ignoring all the positive surrounding it.

e.g. She: “Your parents are adorable, I think your dad liked me, it was a bit awkward with your mom at first, but once I warmed up to her, she is lovely, generous and sweet…”. He: “So, you did not like my mom!?”

4.            Arbitrary Inference –

Jumping to conclusion when evidence is lacking or even contradictory.

e.g. You move into a new city. Your first two dates are disappointing. You: “Men are horrible dates in this city.”

5.            Mind reading –

Assuming you automatically know what someone is thinking or what their intention is without checking.

e.g. Your boyfriend smiles back at another guy, you start a fight  assuming he desires him.

6.            Emotional Reasoning –

Making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality.

e.g. He: “Do not get that abortion, it causes breast cancer.” She: “Is it really about my boobies now?”

7.            Labeling (usually Mislabeling) –

Assigning a label to define a person or incident rather than objectively describing them.

e.g. He: “Sorry honey I forgot to fill your car up this time.” She: “You are so unreliable.”

8.            Catastrophizing (or Magnification) –

Exaggerating the importance or consequences of an event.

e.g. She: “I got a job offer in another city”. She: “So does this mean we are getting a divorce?”

9.            Personalization & Blame –

Holding oneself responsible for an incident that is completely out of her/his control

e.g. She: “I crashed the car.” He: “It is all my fault, I should have took the car today”

I am guilty of #5 and #6.

I am so allergic to #2 #4 and #7.

Which errors do you make?

Which ones do you dislike in others?

Share your thoughts below!

Categories: Personal

Tags: , , ,

7 replies

  1. I definitely relate to Number 9. It is very difficult to surrender to the fact that, as heroic as we may want to be, sometimes tragedies happen to people we love and we are left feeling guilty about what we could have done. I am yet to accept the fact that some things are out of my control because I keep thinking could’ve should’ve would’ve.



  2. Good question. I would have to say all 9!


  3. Guilty of Number 3 and 4! (A)

    As for Number 7. I hate it when you’re judged on one action or by one mistake!

    Thanks for the cool list! Now we know what those reactions are exactly called =P


  4. Totally in agreement with BeirutBoy about Number 7.


  5. I am guilty of 1 and 9 and maybe 8 as well

    My partner had 5 & 6 but I didn’t love him any less. But I have to admit that in the toughest times his 5&6 and my 1&9 became blockers and we lost track. I hate to say that I learned a lot with my loss and I am still learning and reflecting over things and events.
    Very good post


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