Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

10 Cognitive Distortions

Below are 10 forms of twisted thinking according to David Burns, M.D., author of “the Feeling Good Handbook.”
Another great resource for cognitive behavioral therapy is Recovery, Inc. Founded by Abraham Low, this program teaches techniques to analyze negative thoughts (or identify distorted thinking) so to be able to disarm and defeat them. You can get to Recovery, Inc. by clicking here.
1. All-or-nothing thinking (a.k.a. my brain and the Vatican’s): You look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.
2. Overgeneralization (also a favorite): You view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
3. Mental filter: You dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.
4. Discounting the positives: You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don’t count (my college diploma was stroke of luck…really, it was).
5. Jumping to conclusions (loves alcoholic families): You conclude things are bad without any definite evidence. These include mind-reading (assuming that people are reacting negatively to you) and fortune-telling (predicting that things will turn out badly).
6. Magnification or minimization: You blow things way out of proportion or you shrink their importance.
7. Emotional reasoning: You reason from how you feel: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.”
8. “Should” statements (every other word for me): You criticize yourself or other people with “shoulds,” “shouldn’ts,” “musts,” “oughts,” and “have-tos.”
9. Labeling: Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I’m a jerk” or “I’m a loser.”
10. Blame: You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook ways that you contributed to a problem.

  • Larry Parker

    A Catholic joke from a Catholic author … who says people with depression don’t have a sense of humor? ;-P

  • Babs

    The irony is that if you believe these distortions, then your response is, “but really, if you only knew, I suck as a (fill in the blank)..” The distortions are lies we tell ourselves, but they seem quite believeable at the same time. If you are like me, you then have an internal argument going between different sides of yourself, “yeah, what a loser I am,” “okay, be real, you are not a loser. Get a grip…” and on and on and on…..

  • sandy

    Now i do feel bad, all thes fit me. Especially the overgeneralization. Just wish i could stop myself from thinking loke this. Oh Well.

  • Kay

    How many self help books does one buy and read to try to find the answer to panic, anxiety and depression? how many therapy sessions must one have? I have a book case full of self help books, i spent a fortune on therapy and here i am still distressed!!! A froend told me that Love is a basic necessity perhaps thats why i cannot get better because my husband left me and i still love him and i miss him terribly… i am not loved. So in addition to all my anxiety and despair i have to contend with not being loved too. I have had my fair share of health problems too [I am a cancer survivor..till now] What else to i have to bear? Cant i at least by some miracle not have my anxiety and panic problems? why is everthing wrong? DOES ANYONE HAVE AN ANSWER FOR ME?

  • Larry Parker

    Here’s the thing about self-help books:
    I have lots and lots of them too. And mind you, each one has helped me — a little. Given me maybe one new angle to think about, one new thing to practice. But none of them are cure-alls (including Burns’, though I think I da*n him with faint praise too much, because the overall ideas are very good).
    My only major criticism of Burns, in fact, is that he is too analytical and not organic enough — which, no matter the merit of the lessons, is not always a good thing for those of us with depression susceptible to paralysis by overanalysis. The brain is plastic (even if less so for us), yes, but IMHO there comes a point where your “retraining” or “reframing” with cognitive self-therapy is simply feeding back into your issues instead of helping you. (Therese had a post about that with her Rita Arens interview.)
    One reason why support groups, whether offline (DBSA, etc.) or online like BB, are so important. You can’t bounce your feelings off a book. But you can bounce them off another person with our conditions — and with a disease as racked by loneliness (even being “lonely in a crowd” if you are surrounded by people) as depression, that makes such a difference.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Kay: I, too am an “abandoned” wife and I know it hurts like He** My divorce was final over eleven years go, and the pain and lonliness have only magnified with each ensuing year. So pleasedon’t think i’m being calloused here, but the truth is that you undoubtedly ARE loved. Perhaps not by the man whose love and attention you most crave, but by others who are perhaps more worthy of the kind of devotion you lavished on your feckless mate! i’m not talking about another partner her necessarily, though perhaps that too will come to pass, but by friends, family members and DEFINITELY our heavenly father! It’s not the same, I know, especially when YOU took your vows seriously and meant each ‘I do” with your entire heart and soul, BUT I’VE (finally!) started to understand that my ex-husband didn’t deserve me! (I suspect yours didn’t you either)and it’s truly HIS loss! I know that my capacity to love and give was/is far deeper than the woman’s who is his current wife, and he was foolish enough to THROW IT AWAY! It’s a very hard place to reach, and I certainly don’t live there all the time, but tru to surround yourself with people who can recognize and appreciate your unique gifts and shove your ex into one of the “closets” in your mind then shut and LOCK THE DOOR. It won’t take away the pain and lonliness of dissertion COMPLETELY, but it does help. And whenever he tries to emerge from that closet, remind yourself that the door is locked and YOU have the only key. I found that destroying/throwing away things like cards, letters and photographs of our time together–yes, even those from our wedding– helps me keep that door firmly locked. To be totally honest, he still sneaks out on occasion (I should havE known the cheating, lying SOB carried a set of lock picks! ) but it gets easier to shove him back in there each rme I must do so. Most importantly, his lack of committment does NOT define you neither as a woman nor as a person
    Larry is right in that self=help books and therapy have their place, but it’s in relating to others who have experienced similar pain that we truly begin to find a way out of the miasma which envelops us.

  • Kay

    Thank you Margaret and Larry for your answers and attention. I read each very valid word carefully……i am always on thealert for what people have to say as comments like yours help. I am longing to be a calmer person, and person who does not panic and is not so afraid of being alone. I need to be braver than this….i must work harder at this. hopefully i will find the answer here with you.

  • Larry Parker

    You are already being brave and working hard, Kay.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    What Larry just said? Ditto. Calm doesn’t necessarily come through bravery, however. Reaching out like you’ve done here of late ain’t for cowardsso give yourself credit.! The problem with those of us who own “creative wiring” is that we tend to want things to happen NOW, be it peace of mind, sobriety, a new job or whatever. Good thing patience isn’t the ONLY virtue, huh?

  • leah

    this is too margaret:
    its been 10 yrs since my divorce and im still not over it. why does it take so long?! i want to forgive him. i need to forgive him. ive been through therphy, wookbooks, prayer, talk-talk-talk. nothing has worked. he i have not been on a date since 1998 and not man has ‘touched’ me either. i have no children either. he got me sick then six months later he left me. im angry, i hate myself for giving him my love and trusting him. i cant even forgive myself. i dont know anything about him since moving 3 states away. i pray i never see him or his wife and kids that i am sure he has by now. any advice anyone?

  • Carol

    Wounds that are constantly picked at don’t heal as fast. If you want to forgive him, say it over and over until it is true. OUT LOUD. and no, you don’t have to wait for him to ask you to forgive him. You are NOT forgiving him for his sake, you are doing it for yours. He still hurts you when you fail to forgive, and why do you want him to have that kind of power over your life? You have already given him a decade, or more, in that you have refused to let go and move on. why give him more of your life? you are stealing from your present and future when you don’t let go. Say, i forgive you for all, don’t have to list them, you already know what they are. say’ i wish you well, even if you don’t feel like it. you will by reprogramming yourself. how can you find your own happiness holding this grudge, believe me people see and feel it. if he was not worth your time then, he most definitely did not deserve the last decade you gave him. bible says when you forgive someone nonrepentant it is like heaping coals of fire on their head. i told my ex i forgave him, and he lit up like a firecracker, demanding to know what he needed forgiving for. i just walked away with a clear head and heart. it works. try it.

  • Kevin Maloney

    I have loved and benefitted from the teachings of Dr. Lowe for years. It’s the most practical, easy, and effective tool I have ever found for dealing with my moments of emotionality and confusion.
    Give Recovery Inc. a try. The name makes you think it’s only for junkies, but don’t let that deter you. As they say, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”
    Enjoy,and prosper!

  • Alison

    Leah, you must forgive yourself. If he made you sick and I’m not sure exactly what that means. I am assuming that he gave you a disease that does not go away and you are embarrassed about this since you have not been touched since him. Trust me, you are holding onto a shame that does not need to be. Forgive yourself and go on. You will see when you release this and be open with yourself and others you will be able to help many other women and men that have this same issue. Helping others is the best way to help yourself. God will bring you more love when you open the window to it, right now you have it closed. If you can’t love yourself how can you love others like your own children. If one of your friends came to you with the same problems you would listen and let them know that you still love them and that is what you need to do with yourself first before anything else will happen. Step outside of yourself and talk to you like a friend and God loves you no matter what you have or don’t have so let him in.

  • Larry Parker

    In order to get out of the place where you’re at, you have to see yourself as worthy of love.
    That may seem impossible. But I’m about to give you a secret shortcut. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone else. It’ll just be between us :-)
    EVERYONE IS WORTHY OF LOVE. And, last I checked, you’re part of “everyone.”
    And when you start to remind yourself of that, in small ways even when you’re out in your community just talking to people, shopping, maybe going to your house of worship — you will actually start to believe it.
    And then you can start your romantic life again — or at least, feel more whole than you have felt the last decade.
    (That’s the more important part, actually — once you get that, dating will take care of itself. It’s like riding a bike, as they say — even if you think you forget, you don’t really.)

  • PalitoChomba

    Its taken a while to recover this time. Ten years to be exact.
    My Doctor took me off my preffered medication in 1998. Here it is 2007 and I’m just coming out of the doldrums. But I am building on firmer ground this time: I have managed to quit tobacco smoking for ninety days now on Chantix drug and I think I will make a clean break this time. This is what held me back before.
    My IQ is back to the lower 130’s and my desire to succeed is strong.
    Im back on Loxapine 60mg Seroquel 200mg Zonisamide 100 mg and Cogentin
    2mg Vit E 800 IU a day. I am wide awake in the morning thanks to my Yerba Mate (green Tea).
    Let’s see where the Lord takes me this time

  • Mary

    I have been subcribing to belief net for almost 6 months and this is the first time I have participated.
    I hit almost every one of these cognitive responses. I know I am wrong in my thinking but always revert back to them. It has been an endless pattern in my life. I refer to it as my ‘ stinkin thinkin’ . I came from an alcoholic abusive family. I have been programed for dysfunction from the start. My life has been a series of losses. I have had good, don’t get me wrong, nothing bad can last long before it gets good again, but I operate from this series of bad instead of the good. Is there a exercise or something I can do to start living from the other perspective on a more lasting basis?

  • sharon


  • whitney brown

    hi im a 23yr old who have been in a relationship with this guy for a little over 5 months. and i latley have been having alot of negative feelings towards him and being in this relationship. and with reading some of your congnitive responses. and thats me all the way. and i am glad to know that there are other people out here that feel the same way and it’s not just me. im very close to god but i offten become upset with him when things go wrong because i guess i feel like “haven’t i been through enough”. which i know probably seems crazy. but my heart hurts because of pain i have endure and i blame people for this to as well. i feel that my mind plays tricks on me. could you give me some type of advice on this and what can i do towards my relationship with this guy? do you think i need time to myself, am i capable of being in a relationship right now?

  • Megan

    I never really thought of myself as cognitively distorted but after reading the 10’s I’ve come to the abrupt realization that I do ALL of them, consistantly…Being aware of this now, I plan on changing the way I think and talk to myself.

  • Anonymous

    I am like Joe on the commercial,I cannot get a date,or do much of anything else.

  • Betty

    I am currently going through an intensive out-patient therapy program for Major Depression. I have been in the program for approximately six weeks. The program I am in teaches CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and it works. As long as you are a willing participant to changing the way you are feeling, you will benefit from CBT. I feel so much better – about myself and my life – than I have in as long as I can remember. I am still struggling with life (financial, etc.), but I am coping a whole lot better. CBT is great.

  • J-Man

    I am a 28 yr old college grad. When I graduated I though life was easy and the world was at my finger tips?!?!? Well needless to say I was wrong. No I dwell on the past mistakes I’ve made and fell as though I’ve done so much wrong I can’t do right. I fell as though I always let my family down when they start to think they can count on me. I just want to go back to the way I was before I lost my innocense and become disruptive and on a self destruction mode. I lost the love of my life and haven’t been able to get out of the moment? Self medicating has been something that I look foward to for far too long. What can I do to get it back together?

  • Gregg

    So many, if not all, of these traits pertain to the way I think. It’s a recurring pattern of self defeat and negativity. I am always looking to change this but I get nowhere. Any ideas????

  • Stardust555

    How true, Dr. Burns, how true. Thanks for sharing this. I need a refresher course from time to time.

  • Frank

    I’ve thought about these cognitive distortions for a bit – mulled them over, chewed on them and threw them up against the wall of my mind to see which ones would stick. I’m happy to say that only five of them describe my thought processes on any kind of regular basis. And I really mean I’m happy. The left and right brain must play some part in which of these we deal with on a regular basis – anyhow, that’s my theory of the moment. When I perceive a WWF body slam by a co-worker, friend or loved one – it’s typically a distorted perception. I don’t mean this to sound like poor, pitiful me – but I’m not the focal (or fecal) point of their lives. They have their own issues with which to deal and when I remember that it helps me to reduce my estimation of their importance in my life. What they think doesn’t matter as what I think and how I act. My perceptions aren’t always skewed though. Sometimes I deserve to be in the bullseye. I do stupid things from time to time. I am NOT stupid but I’m human. And humans do stupid things and make stupid mistakes from time to time. The key for me today is to forgive myself as well as seek forgiveness. God will do so and even forget it – we human ‘beans’ – well, we’re able and willing to forgive (sometimes) but we rarely forget. Our divine spark would be much brighter if we could get the forget part down right. Anyhow, there’s my thinking today – and I’m actually thinking what I said (or at least what I meant) makes pretty good sense! Smile, my friends, it’s a beautiful day somewhere.

  • Agatha

    Well, here I am again, and sorry but I don’t feel like any symphaty is coming now. Please, ladies!!!! MOVE ON! happiness is a CHOICE!
    Decide right now that you are over whatever anybody did! they did not do it to you, you decide what people do to you by allowing them to hur you and feeling a victim. Yo have the power within you to forgive, let go and live your life in love, this all comes from within, not wherever it is you are looking.
    Yes, it is THAT simple!
    Thinking you are a victim, not loved, unhappy, anxious makes you so!
    I know because I’ve been there too.
    Now, I decide to be happy, I wake up every day to feeling grateful about my life and that Love is a choice as well as happiness. Yes, I have some things that I need to take care of ( I have a child that is sick) but even thatis ablessing for me, what an opportunity tolove abd taske4 care of someone.
    You are loved if you love, you are happy if you give happiness, you leae the darkness when you choose the light!

  • Charlie

    This could be way too much thinking. Remember your Ok and I’m Ok and live in the moment. Too much analysis usually gets us in trouble. Focus on the positive and “STOP” the rest of the mental chatter. Maybe this is too simple?

  • sandra weisz

    i feel like an idiot so i must be one. yep that’s me. even with all my degrees and extremely high i.q. i’m the biggest loser in the world. guilty as charged. my life is so bad it could easily be made into a move of the decade. it’s true thinking this way is just getting me further and further into trouble. however other so called people have contributed to my misery, they didn’t have to be so mean and inhumane…. for starters, i’ve no where to live.

  • Deborah

    there`s a famous song{maybe not so famous to some}that says’if you`re goin` thru hell keep on goin`…ya might get out before the devil even knows you`re there.’}i keep that tune in my head when things get rough…i try to be upbeat with alot of stuff & most of the time it works for me.

  • Kel

    A response to J-Man:
    It gets better; I feel the same way often and I’m 40 (yikes!)… Try to get some help, there is no shame in that. In fact it is the braver thing to do.
    In the meantime, I posted one of my tunes in the A/V section. It’s called ‘Dementia’ and was a description of my own depression 14 years ago. Hope you can relate and that you might find some pleasure in the music. BTW, I still suffer from depression, but I manage it. As I said, it CAN and DOES get better. Forget about the ‘bootstrapper’ advice and folks who don’t understand — How could they? They’ve never seen teh inside of the Abyss… Take Care.

  • Kel

    A response to J-Man:
    It gets better; I feel the same way often and I’m 40 (yikes!)… Try to get some help, there is no shame in that. In fact it is the braver thing to do.
    In the meantime, I posted one of my tunes in the A/V section. It’s called ‘Dementia’ and was a description of my own depression 14 years ago. Hope you can relate and that you might find some pleasure in the music. BTW, I still suffer from depression, but I manage it. As I said, it CAN and DOES get better. Forget about the ‘bootstrapper’ advice and folks who don’t understand — How could they? They’ve never seen the inside of the Abyss… Take Care.

  • MauraElaine

    The 10 cognitive distortions could have been taken right out of a book I have about psychological and verbal abuse. The victim is made to feel like he or she is “crazy” and so disoriented that those 10 areas seem appropriate. Amazing how things overlap when you are looking closely at them. Is the person distorting cognitively because they are doing it to him or her self or is it a distortion by the abuser to make the victim feel out of control and off balance so the thinking of the victim is foggy and disoriented? What do you think about that? Either way Cognitive Therapy is most helpful.

  • TEEN

    # 3,5,6,8,&10 describe my husband. It is alsways someone else in his mind. He has not fault.
    This makes life really hard on me. When someone can never see they are the problem some of the time and consider themselves faultless they are also miserable.

  • Erica

    I know exactly what you mean. Everyone (who’s not depressed)thinks oh just snap out of it, you just WANT to be depressed. I know it’s mean, but I often wish people with no compassion just 24 hrs of what we go through. You know until you walk a mile in another woman’s Jimmy Choos or Payless Bogo’s. . . . Actually after waiting 6 mo I finally get to see a therapist tomorrow – wish me luck. I’m so sick of laying on the couch and I’m down to 121lbs – completely no muscle or ass. I need a lot of help with my self-image/esteem. I hope everyone finds a path that works for them (I’m still looking for mine) – medication, therapy, meditation, etc. ((((((((((((((((L&H))))))))))))))))))) to everyone.

  • Rose Maria

    As I was reading your first point of: “10 forms of TWISTED thinking”, I wanted to discontinue immediately because the example you gave in parenthesis was exceedingly TWISTED:( brains and the Vatican). That was a very unfair dig against the Catholic Church. It was offensive! It was TWISTED! I suggest that you learn the truth about the Catholic Church from reliable sources. If you do, I assure you, you would love the church as I do.

  • Michael Dyer

    Very Very cool Therese I hate it love it when you describe me to a T, but I’m workin on it,,,,,,,,,thank you so much my dear and best regards,,,,,,,,,michael!

  • Cassie

    To Rose Marie: I think the (my brain and the Vatacan’s) thing was ONLY saying the Vatacan sees only right and wrong with little or no grey areas. Every day we make grey decisions…..that is normal life – it is not normal life to think there are only solid right or wrong choices and behavior. There are simply too many variables that make most of life’s decisions fluid. What seems right today might seem wrong tomorrow with new information added in to the mix.

  • Larry Parker

    Rose Marie:
    Do you realize how many books our blogmistress has written about CATHOLIC THEOLOGY?!?!?!?!
    You might want to investigate that before criticizing her for her sense of humor.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    i’m an EXPERT in all of these types of distorted thinking, but especially blame (Comes from being the “scapegoat” in my birth family) a friend once counted how many times I uttered “i’m sorry” in the course of one evening (she actually kept a written tally so as to keep me from doubting her calculations) and I was absolutely AMAZED! Over sixty times in a two-and a half hour period! And NONE of them were actual apologies for specific words or actions of my own! I apologized when her television went on the fritz, when her over’s timer failed to go off burning the chocolate chip cookies which were fragrancing her apartment, for the fact that she’d received a bounced check notice in the mail and other circumstances too inumerable to list here! It was a real eye-opener, especially sonce my friend shared that she saw this as one of mt least endearing qualities. (Actually irritating was her terminology.) It’s something I’ve tried to work on since, and I HAVE gotten better in terms of vocalization, but the thought process seems to have become automatic and is resistant to change. thank you, T, for this post; as always it hit me where I live and will perhaps give me the tool I need to overcome this “twisted” thought process. The funny thing about me is that while I worked very hard as an educator to teach my students to affirm themselves,I have a MUCH more difficult time applying those same standards to myself! Up until now that has remained true in spite of all my years of therapy, all the self-help books I’ve devoured, all the seminars i’ve attended on developing good self-esteem in children and all the techniques i’ve tried to apply. I think I mat have mentioned before that jack Canfield’s audio tapes, “Self esteem and Peak Performance” were my listening of choice when I commuted fifty miles both to and from work, but since I’m no longer allowed to drive anymore, I follow the “unspoken rule of “sriver’s discretion in terms of audio, temperature control and the general in-car environment. I’m going to have to search those tapes out and begin listening to them again here at home each day;staying mindful of the lessons they teach doesn’t have to cease just because my driving privileges and life circumstances have! After all, “Peak performance pertains to living, not just working. You guardian angel’s angel’s ‘human BEING as opposed to “human doing!) I’ve also printed today’s post to keep handy for when I catch myself in the act of employing these deadly trapsand intend to refer to it at those times. The difficulty, at least for ME) lies in the fact that those mindsets have become ingrained through the years, so it will take A LOT of concerted effort to even ATTEMPT to change those paradigms.

  • Sassafrassassie

    Sure was surprised to see so many women on here who are basically in the same boat as I am regarding the ex-husband.
    Curiously, I find that when my life is relatively happy and full, I don’t think about him much. But when I’m depressed, lonely, and unfulfilled, I think about him all the time!
    Cognitively and behaviorally speaking, the only person you can change is yourself. Also, the past can’t be changed. Therefore, if the only thoughts and behaviors you can change are your own, and you can only change the present and the future, therein lies your answer.
    Without going into too much technical jargon, we all have “automatic thoughts” that we tell ourselves, probably without even being aware of it. First thing to do is to become aware of our thoughts and behaviors, and this can be accomplished by self-monitoring. It requires a little effort, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult. It does entail recording your thoughts and behaviors, specifically the ones you want to change, for a time. While it can be a little time-consuming at first, if you carry a notebook with you (a small one will do), every time you think a negative thought or perform a negative behavior, you write it down. The goal is to reduce those thoughts & behaviors, right? So it helps to become aware of just what those thoughts & behaviors are, and how often we think/do them.
    The key is to replace each negative thought and behavior with something else. So once you have looked at your negative thought and behavior patterns, you have to decide, specifically, what you will replace each one with. It’s not enough to say “I will only think positive thoughts”, you have to be specific, e.g., if you say to yourself, “I’m unloveable”, you might replace that with “I’m worthy of being loved”. Behaviorally, if you want to quit smoking right after you eat, for example, you might decide to replace the smoking behavior with taking a walk. You see how it works. It’s important to be specific, and to plan exactly what you will replace each negative thought and/or behavior with.
    There’s another technique called “thought-stopping”. Once you’re aware of thinking a negative thought, you stop immediately. Some people actually clap their hands the second they’re aware of having a negative thought about themselves, to remind/alert them that they need to immediately replace that thought with a positive one.
    These are just small steps anyone can take by themselves to correct their thinking or their behavior, but they do work when practiced faithfully.
    Another technique is to act “as if”. If you’re depressed, act “as if” you’re happy. It’s not as hard as it sounds, really. Generally, it’s easiest to change our thoughts and behaviors before our feelings, but if we change our thought processes, then our behaviors and our feelings will fall in line, as well.
    For most people, I think, it’s not “why” they feel/think/behave as they do, but “how” they can change how they feel/think/behave. I think it helps to be more solution-focused, for the most part, especially if you’re depressed. Ask yourself, “if tomorrow I woke up and I wasn’t depressed anymore, what would I be doing? thinking? feeling?”
    The only thoughts/behaviors/feelings we can control are our own, so why waste energy trying to control the way others think/behave/feel? I agree that forgiving is a great thing to do and is the best thing to do in order to truly let someone/something go, and if you can do it, great. But don’t beat yourself up if you just aren’t ready to do it. Concentrate on changing yourself first, and then see what happens when you’re stronger.
    Hope some of this helps.

  • Anonymous

    God has no “gray areas”

  • Laurel G.

    Yeah I am guilty of all of those ways of thinking. My stinkin thinkin has kept me imprisoned in my own mind for many years. Until Feb 2007, when I came to admit that I am an addict, and that only God can help me in my battle for recovery. I have to remind myself each day of my gratitudes, and then pray for God to help me through the rest of the day without reverting back to negative thinking.
    I will admit that everything is not exactly as I would have it today, but I can be grateful for even the littlest things. E.G. no holes in my socks, warmth, love, the smiles on my children’s faces when I walk in the door, and many others to numerous to list.
    I have to forgive myself for all my mistakes and know that just for today I can be happy with God’s help. I can only move forward and never look back.
    God loves each and every one of us, UNCONDITIONALLY and without FAIL!!!
    God bless everyone who reads this post. I hope your days are filled with love, beauty, kindness and God’s grace and mercy!

  • Rose Maria

    Thanks to the person who posted: God has no GRAY AREAS!
    Larry, I did not even know that the blogmistress has written any books on Catholic Theology. Could you give me her name and the names of the books she has written. It never ceases to amuse me how minds with a little knowledge think they know better how to run the church than those in position of leadership. At present we have the greatest theologian since St. Augustine at the helm in the Vatican. If you have time, you might find genuine inspiration in reading the works of Pope Benedict XVI (Ratzinger). I certainly do! He’s great!
    As for a sense of humor it would be well to distinguish between a sense humor and sarcasm, ridicule, slander. By the way, the Church is on God’s side when it comes to thinking, and it is certainly neither TWISTED or DISTORTED! God give you light and peace!

  • Allgood

    Who is this “God,” being referenced? I understand that people who buy into a “no shades of gray” mentality may think this in their worldview, but why bring in an unneccessary idea like “God?” What a strange thing to do in this day and age.Why not just say “I have no gray areas.” Don’t put things into a third person perspective.

  • Rev. T

    It’s interesting that one chose to title their coments “God has no gray areas”. I was once a part of a religion that taught just that. It was “God’s way or no way, there are no gray areas”. That kind of thinking reminds me of the very first negative thinking mentioned. “1. All-or-nothing thinking (a.k.a. my brain and the Vatican’s): You look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.” It is for this exact reason (which was one of the many reasons) why I left that church. That kind of view is so limiting and controling. To bring reference to God with this thinking is wrong. It’s man’s view not God’s view. Even the last negative thinking mentioned falls in with man and not God. “10. Blame: You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook ways that you contributed to a problem.” When there is a disaster that takes place, or a loved one dies, we blame God, by saying that God wanted angels up in heaven. This is NOT God’s view. It is man’s view. We need to stop contributing God to our negative human qualities or negative thinking patterns.

  • marguerite

    I have never read anything so precise. My son (whom is 32 yrs.) is well, put this way I see his problem BUT, WHAT DO I DO TO OVERLOOK OR HELP WITH IT.

  • Lynne

    I’ve mostly thought of God as a way to cope with what the world dishes out! I know a lot of people who blame God when things go terribly wrong. My friend Beth whose beautiful husband( a young police officer) was tragically killed while in pursuit of a drunk driver wanted to know “How could God let this happen?!” I can only answer because of free will. That driver chose to drive drunk. Criminals choose to steal,maim, and murder through no fault of their victims. There are however NO MYSTERIES IN HEAVEN!!! Everyone has to answer to God AND the person whom they have transgressed. Having said that I confess to sometimes being angry at people who die and leave their loved ones behind. Kinda stupid don’t you think? Grief is’nt logical. By the way I’m guilty of about 3/4 of that list. Pretty accurate once again Therese!

  • Larry Parker

    Rose Maria:
    (And sorry about the misspelling before — there’s a Rose Marie who’s a dear friend of mine …)
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but angry judgments like yours are a big part of the reason I’m now a LAPSED Catholic. But if you have come to Therese Borchard’s blog out of your own depression, I’ll pray for you as sincerely as I’m sure you’ll pray for me.
    Besides, your wish is my command (http://):
    Amazon alone lists SEVENTY (that’s seven-zero) books Therese has either written or contributed to, virtually all about Catholicism.
    I rest my case.

  • Larry Parker

    Of course there are no mysteries in heaven.
    They’re all here on earth hopelessly confusing us :-(

  • DonnaMarie

    Hmmm,I must say that I am guilty of some of these,but my main concern is my fiance,who do to negative thinking in his upbringing(his mother)is still looking at things in such a negative way that it brings me down.
    What to do?He sees the worst in every situation makes his own problems before they happen.Frustrating to say the least.

  • Rose Maria

    Thank You for your response. I really did not intend to express anger in my response to your previous comments; I wanted only to express my deep respect for the Vatican and its leadership. I have lived thirty years in Rome and made frequent contacts with the Vatican. I found the personnel there very courteous and open minded, even moreso than here in the USA.
    Thank you for the information regarding Therese Borchard and the books she has written. I will pursue this further. Also I thank you sincerely for your prayers for me and I will also remember you in my prayers before the Blessed Sacrament and in my daily rosary.
    God bless you and keep you!

  • Debbie Hartley

    Donna Marie, Negative behavior is bad and is very depressing I know. Don’t give up. Ask God to heal him physically, emotionally and mentally and try to help him turn his negatives into positives.You have to change your own way of thinking and attitude unfortunately you can’t change him. Get some inspirational books and books with positive thinking and be thankful. It helps.

  • kip val

    i did not see my thought process on the chart so let me put it this way. i look at every one as just a person untill they open up their mouth once too often and prove that they are an ideot or worse then they fit into the catagory of mine that everything and everyone in this world suck i mean this world will never live up to your expectations and the only thing as certain as death and taxes is you will be let down, betraied , lied to , and generaly screwed over. so expect it and then atleast you won t be surprised.

  • cindy

    I agree with kip val

  • RAE


  • Alice Ridgley

    only I can change me no one has power unless I give it to them took a long time to train my brain but it has been worth the work,sometimes hard

  • Larry Parker

    kip val and cindy:
    Here’s the thing (admittedly from a biased place):
    I see all the dysfunction, all the cynicism, all the hatred of the world, and I just want to turn inside myself and hide from it.
    Except … that’s a disease. Called depression.
    So every time I fall into the temptation and become solipsistic … somehow, I’ve managed to turn back around. And open myself up to all the heartaches and heartbreaks of the world.
    Your stance not only makes logical sense to you, it makes logical sense to me. I don’t know if I would choose to live the way I do, but I can’t NOT live that way, if it makes any sense. I call myself an incurable optimist — I’m an optimist despite the fact the world is constantly, every day, trying to cure me of it, through my depression and otherwise.
    Because that’s the only way to get the heartwarming of true connections with other people — at least the 10%, to copy our friend Wisdum, who want to reach out compared to the 90% who would at best ignore you and at worst hurt you.

  • lady off light

    In contrast to Dr. Burns, distorted thinking let me point out what God says in his word through the Apostle Paul in Philipians 4:8 “Whatsever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsevoer things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. This is the model for what twe are to think about.
    It woould be great if we could all do this all the time, but life doesen’t always work that way. How we think is just as important as what we think about. Dr. Burns has given us a means of “weeding out the garden of our mind” by identifying when we are not thinking clearly and need to change these distortions with cognitive work. Breaking these patterns can help a great deal. I have used the work of Dr. Burn’s Handbook as well as”The Power of Positive THinking” to help get on track and stay on track. Thank you, Teresa, for sharing this resource with us and I hope the readers will get a copy and read the whole book and make use of it.
    Lady of light

  • Robin Hummingbird Songs

    Amen to all of this! It’s great to see a list of how our thoughts get twisted. I personally call it “The Jabbers” these little voices that go off in our minds, telling us negative things about self and others that bring us down, making the whole world seem worse. When we catch it, we can simply choose not to listen to those voices. If they have us in their grip, singing and prayer does wonders!

  • Megan

    Jumping to conclusions (loves alcoholic families): You conclude things are bad without any definite evidence. These include mind-reading (assuming that people are reacting negatively to you) and fortune-telling (predicting that things will turn out badly).
    great article except for this part. These things are called INSTINCTS. A lot of times people are being negative towards you and you sense it even though they aren’t saying anything. Its something that some people have a sensitivity to and it shouldn’t be condemned but one can learn to cope with this and love themselves regardless of what people may say or think. also one can surround themselves with more positve people. Fourtune Telling is a gift. and sometimes people predict negative things. with fourtune telling its all about possibilites. Telling someone that something negative MIGHT happen could help them and prevent them from making that mistake. This is also called in “christian” terms as prophecy.
    life is not all rosey and perfect but the key to happiness is learning to deal wtih it.

  • Cassandra

    The ten distortions are common for everyone at one time or another. I think we sometimes throw out a distortion in a conversation when we are lacking validation from loved ones. “Emotional reasoning – I feel like an idiot, so I must be one” can be a hint to a listener that they need something affirmed. I know I have taken chances with my therapists or friends by not “reining back” that thinking but allowing it to be there in conversation. I don’t always know how I sound to listeners. How much more helpful to have a loved one say, “You know, we are feel like idiots at times; but it goes away. You’re a smart person.” This may not be the exact words I might use. It would depend on the situation. But if I cared for that person, I would do my best to undo that thinking and try to provide some other way to think.
    But being in therapy for many years and “accused” of distorted thinking, it is much more helpful when someone who cares enough to listen will validate another way of thinking. My distorted thinking began earlier than I can remember when my father thought it was necessary to “teach” me how to think. My childhood education occurred in a horribly abusive household lasting until I had the courage to run at 17.
    What I learned from my own experiences and thru therapy that, if someone can teach you distorted thinking when you’re young and it’s coming from parents, the child’s first teacher, what chance would I have to fight thinking that was as natural to me as breathing? What could I do to change this thinking?
    Thru a loving therapist, my own family and a more careful choosing of my friends, I realized honesty, consistency and love from these people was what it was going to take. I needed them to show me with words and their own behavior that I was not the person my father said I was. But it also has required persistence and a willingness to change on my part. I’m not always successful but I am so much further along. I have more self-confidence to pause and run the distored thoughts thru better filters. I bite my tongue at times but I am reminded that I am changing and want to be recognized by those in my world that I’m putting forth supreme efforts to avoid falling back into the familiarity of the distorted thinking I was giving up.
    I can finally say aloud that I need help to relearn a more productive way of thinking. I didn’t get to this way of thinking by myself. And I know now it’s not possible to undo it all alone.

  • CLeo

    I’m “happy” to say that I live with a person who is highly affected by the #10 distortion. While I, at different times, I’m the throws of the other 9, but try to keep them hidden, he continues full steam ahead in the mistaken belief that #10 is the correct position to take.
    One day, soon, he and #10 will be completely out of my life.

  • mindmelda

    I’ve used Dr. Burns book to good effect for many years. Unfortunately, I was raised with a lot of negative or distorted thinking, even though I don’t blame my parents for that at all, because they could only pass on the negative thinking they’d been taught.
    It takes time and effort to “weed out” that kind of deeply entrenched thinking, but it’s worth the effort.
    Like some of the other readers here, I’ve found echoes of better and healthy thinking in the Bible. I’m always surprised that some find it a “negative” book, because it’s counsel seems so humane, reasonable and sane to me.
    Reasonableness, kindness along with practical as well as spiritually positive thinking was always promoted by Christ and the other Christian Bible writers. I often re-read the Sermon on the Mount as one of the best examples of positive thinking one can find.

  • Michelle

    I find that negetive thinking starts with being hard on yourself, so remember, if you are 40 years old in this universe, it is only 40 cycles of the seasons. The earth has had millions…. GO EASY!

  • Maria

    I love this list. Or should I say I LOVED this list. I have been
    through many years of therapy and feel that even with reading and trying to follow E. Tolle, Budhism and having been raised Catholic
    that I find it difficult to change some of my thinking along the negative about myself. Going on 56 I feel that I have failed in many things.
    I just completed two weekend/intensive workshops this past fall.
    WHen I am out of work for many months and having to a place where I am
    basically isolated I am really hurting. The holidays are difficult.
    My dad who sexually abused me is now lying in nursing home blind,
    and one leg amputated. I received a letter from my sister who I was
    always close with that she and my sister were told by my mother that I
    “wasn’t normal”. Whenever, I feel I am on more positive plane I feel that I am returning to falling down that hole.
    I was a stay at home mom and married for 26 years. I wanted to leave
    my abusive/emotionally distant husband and he took custody of my children from me. I never drank or took drugs but if you have money
    and enough hatred you can accomplish anything. I feel beaten down.
    I am not sure I will or can get up again.

  • Bill

    I see a major flaw in #1 on this list, it contradicts itself. When you state that all or nothing thinking is distorted thinking, then you’ve just made an all or nothing statement. Either #1 on this list is included on the list of distorted thinking or the premise is false. Maybe the author should have said that some all or nothing thinking may be distorted thinking.

  • Ellen

    Maria, I just wanted to write and encourage you. You ABSOLUTELY can get up and you don’t have to fall down that hole. There is a wonderful poem written by Virgina Satir, a brilliant therapist and it tells us that positive changes begin by recognizing that you CAN change and loving yourself for that ability to change.
    May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering.
    My Declaration of Self-Esteem
    by Virginia Satir
    I AM ME
    In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
    Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
    Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
    My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
    Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fanatasies,
    My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
    Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
    Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
    I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
    There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
    Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
    Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
    And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
    And for ways to find out more about me – However I
    Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
    I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
    Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
    And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
    Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
    Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
    I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
    Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
    People and things outside of me – I own me, and
    therefore I can engineer me – I am me and

  • Stephen

    Maria, it seems likely that you are clinically depressed to some extent. If you look at your statement, there’s a list of unpleasant things that have happened to you that you’re focusing on almost exclusively (Mental filter). S**t happens to everybody, but our mood is affected not so much by the s**t itself as by how we think about it.
    I recommend getting one of David Burns’ books and starting on his program if you can’t see a cognitive-behavioral therapist. It’s very likely that your mood will improve and you’ll cope better. It has certainly worked for me, though I felt as hopeless as you when I started off on it.

  • Billy

    Hi Maria, You didn’t say if your dad or ex? drank alcohol. I’m guessing one or both did. Both of my parents did, my father admitted to being an alcholic. I have also had a lot of trouble with depression and faulty thinking as well. I am a member of ALANON, a fellowship of friends and family members of alcoholics. It has helped me a great deal! Alcoholism is a family disease and all of the family members are effected buy it. Only 5% of alcoholics are the ones you see on the streets. The rest are from all walks of life and this disease causes a lot of pain. God Bless, I hope you can find help. You are not alone.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Anna

    Of these 10, I think I regularly exhibit 7 or 8 of them. Must stop doing that.

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