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Thinking Errors - What are they and how do they affect us.

Thinking errors are faulty patterns of thinking that are self-defeating for one’s self.

They occur when the things that you are thinking do not match up with reality.

Thinking errors are sometimes also referred to as cognitive distortions.

Those who commit thinking errors often don’t realise they are doing so.

People with anxiety and low self-esteem are susceptible to getting caught in an endless loop of negative thinking.

As an example, a person who thinks that “they are useless/stupid” will avoid situations in which they may think people will judge them and slowly will start avoiding all such situations.

As a result, they may also start avoiding social situations, which may ten also make them feel left out and eventually causes more negative thoughts such as “something must be wrong with me.”

The cycle then continues, leaving the person feeling depressed or anxious. If the initial thought is dealt with appropriately, the entire cycle of negativity that follows it can be avoided.

Here are some of the Thinking Errors that we may experience

1. Mental Filter- Focusing on only one aspect of a situation (often negative) while overlooking others (positive), creating tunnel vision.

2. Emotional Reasoning - Assessing situations through the lens of your current emotion, where your emotions are interpreted as fact.

3. All or Nothing thinking- Absolute thinking where one focuses on an extreme and ignores the other. There is no in-between.

4. Jumping to Conclusions- Assuming we know what will happen, without evidence to support it. These are of two types:

a. Mind reading: Assuming we know what someone else is thinking or what their rationale is

behind their behaviour.

b. Predictive thinking: Predicting outcomes usually overestimating negative emotions or


5. Personalisation - Blaming yourself unnecessarily for external negative events.

6. Catastrophising- Exaggerating a situation in the negative.

7. Labelling - Using sweeping, negative statements to describe yourself or others.

8. Overgeneralising- Interpreting a single, negative event as the norm, or enduring pattern.

9. Should-have and Must-have Statements- Putting unreasonable expectations on oneself.

10. Magnification and Minimisation- Magnifying the positives in others, while discounting your own.

Namita Bhatia

Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist



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