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Do you have errors in your thinking ?

Updated on May 2, 2012

As we go through life we develop a pattern of thinking. At a young age we learn from our parents how to respond to certain stimuli based on their handling of events in their life. In addition we have experiences of our own and this helps us to determine “What things mean”, “How we should feel about them” and “What we do”.

Over time we build up a mental database of thoughts, feelings and responses and we re-use them when appropriate. More specifically the process we follow in our thinking is as follows :

1. Events > 2. Thoughts > 3. Feelings > 4.Behaviour

Our feelings and behaviour have a huge bearing on the quality of our life so it is important that our thinking database has useful, balanced and accurate information. As our thoughts are responsible for our ‘Results’ in life, if we have errors in our thinking the results will be poor and not serve us well. These thinking errors will manifest themselves in symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) a systematic approach is taken to identify these ‘Thinking errors’ and help the patient readjust their perception of ‘what events mean’ and ‘what responses should be applied’.

So do you have errors in your thinking ?.

Below is a table used by Cognitive Behavioural Therapists to help a patient identify if they have any thinking errors.

Thinking Error
What does this mean ?
All or Nothing thinking
Thinking in extremes e.g things are either wonderful or terrible; or I have to be perfect, if not I'm a failure
Drawing a general conclusion on the basis of a single incident e.g. when one thing goes wrong, thinking Nothing ever goes right
Mentally filtering
Assessing a whole situation on the basis of one detail e.g You missed abit up there.
Discounting the positive
Turning positive or neutral things into negative (like turning lead into gold) e.g He's only saying that to be kind.
Jumping to conclusions
Thinking something about an event without any real reason e.g.
[a] Mind reading
They think Im boring
[b] Fortune-telling
It will never work
Binocular Trick
Making more of the negatives and less of the positives e.g. The boss wasn't happy with that piece of work that means he's going to sack me; He said that was a good piece of work, but it's only one piece.
Emotional reasoning
Using feelings as a basis for what you think/believe If I feel it, it must be true
Should, Oughts & Musts
Using statements like I should, maybe to bully yourself into doing things e.g. I should be over this by now; Things shouldnt be this way (Maybe being unable to accept reality)
Global judgements
Making a judgement based on one fact/detail e.g.
[a] Labelling
Hes a complete idiot
[b] Awfulizing
This is terrible
Thinking you are totally responsible for something that you can't really control, such as other people's feelings e.g It's all my fault they didn't enjoy the evening.
Thinking the worst possible thing will happen

Chances are you can identify with some of the thoughts listed above, however, the real question is ‘How frequent are these thoughts’ and ‘How much negative impact are they having on your life’.

If you have experienced any of the above, have coping strategies you would like to share or just like this hub please leave a comment.

Thank you for reading.


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    • Mrs Jil Manning profile image

      Mrs Jil Manning 

      7 years ago from Sussex, England

      fascinating hub, its so easy to go through life with certain beliefs which upon examination, are really erroneous and useless. Thanks for a clear explanation.

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Neil Sperling -Thank you for your comment and I totally agree that we are here to learn, develop and contribute. All the best

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 

      7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Up and useful - great hub! Personal growth is an awesome subject.... personal growth is why we are here on earth as far as I can figure out. Good stuff!

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 

      7 years ago from Lancashire, England

      I was pleased to read a hub that publicises the thinking distortions that we all display some of the time.

      A further point worth emphasising is that cognitive therapy is often not only about testing the validity of our thoughts, but also about recognising the differing emotional consequences of the various interpretations of a situation. In social situations it is commonly not possible to know the absolute truth/reality.

      Anyway, a useful hub and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      KDuBarry03. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad it has been useful for you. Good luck with your studies.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very interesting Hub! As an interpersonal communication studies student, it's very interesting, and informative, to see these thinking errors applied in actual conversation. Thank you for sharing this great hub!

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      LR45. Glad you liked my Hub. CBT is effective not just for addressing Thinking Errors but also for dealing with trauma aswell, so it's scope for helping people is phenomenal.Well done for your bravery in seeking CBT as a treatment, please feel free to share your insights on this hub in the future. All the best.

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Crazzykylex. Thank you for your comment and the follow. I think we can all learn something from this list. (It is Ben by the way)

    • LR45 profile image


      7 years ago from Wales, UK

      I found this hub really interesting as I am about to begin a course of CBT. Thank you for writing such an insightful article.

    • Crazzykylex profile image


      7 years ago from Incredible India!

      Didn't know I 've thinking errors too. Awesome hub, Iwriteforyou! (May I know your name)

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      cdemp11. Thank you for reading and your comment. I really liked your use of the word 'Reality'. It is so true that we can become governed by our thoughts/feelings and be unaware of the reality in a situation. I'll keep the hubs coming and I will be reading yours soon. Thanks again.

    • iwriteforyou profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Sage in a Cage. Thank you for your comment and the follow. I am a huge fan of CBT and practice the principles in my own life and also try and incorporate it into my work with clients. Looking forward to reading your hubs on the topic of mental health aswell, it is such an important part of our existance.

    • cdemp11 profile image


      7 years ago from GA, USA

      Nice hub! Knowing that one's thoughts are not necessarily reality, but neurological patterns, is the first step to changing making positive change in one's life. I am interested in seeing some follow-up hubs to this one!

    • Sage in a Cage profile image

      Sage in a Cage 

      7 years ago

      Interesting hub. As a psychologist I get to see the benefits of CBT every day. Thanks for highlighting the fact that managing thought patterns can bring about great changes.


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