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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ERRORS IN THINKING. (Mine is missing from the list)

This list comes from cognitve therapy.

Many of us in pain are prone to one, some, or even all of them.
Cognitive therapy believes recognizing these 'mistakes' helps you to overcome the habit of the erroneous thinking.

All or nothing - everything is black or white, One mistake and you feel like a complete failure. The treatment did not work. It is me, I am the failure, not the treatment.

Overgeneralization - If it happened once, it will always happen. If one treatment did not work, none will. Ever.

Mental filter - filtering out the positive. My ( ) was nasty to me about the pain. You ignore the people who have been kind and understanding.

Disqualifying the positive - Hearing the negative even in a positive statement. "You look nice today." Instead of accepting it you think they mean "I don't look like I have pain and he does not believe me.

Jumping to conclusions, Fortune telling - Imagining something bad: the pain will only get worse, I will become completely disabled and unable to do anything.
Mind reading - Someone ignores you. Immediately you think 'they do not like me.', or 'they think I am a malingerer or hypochondriac'.

Magnification, minimization - making things too big, or too small. I have a new symptom or pain. It is all you can concentrate on, making it bigger and bigger in your mind. Or, I have a new symptom or pain. My research or knowledge lets me know I need to have it checked out but I am going to ignore it because I know it is nothing.

Emotional Reasoning - Emotions are reality - I feel like no one believes me, therefore I am a fake, my pain is not real.

Shoulding - I should go to the party. I should be able to (tie my shoes, walk to the store, etc.) When you know you cannot do it you feel guilty, bad, angry, and other negative emotions, despite the fact that this is something you truly could not do.

Labeling and mislabeling - Big overgeneralization, calling yourself names. The pain stops me from doing ( ). Since I cannot I am a loser. I call myself that when thinking about who I am.

Personalization - deciding that you are responsible for something that you did not do. The doctor did not give me a name for what I have or a treatment, I must be a lousy patient. It is my fault she could not help me.

I am a practitioner of way too many of these.

Strangely, although I think I am a pessimistic person, mostly by virtue of my life experiences, I cling to pollyanna thoughts, a number of these 'errors' rolled into one main construct: The first surgery worked so there should be, in fact I know there is, the one thing (meds, surgery) out there that will "fix" me. All or nothing, shoulding, overgeneralization, jumping to conclusions, magnification, emotional reasoning.

As I write these words, I realize my error in thinking has one name. Hope.

Is that an 'error', a mistake?

I often hear, "You need to accept the pain, the disability. It's hard but it would help take you to a place of peace, and centeredness."

Maybe that is true; but I feel like it is the giving up of hope if I accept the pain, accept my situation.

My 'error' is not in the list.

Accepting 2 realities at once - Hope, and the current truth. And knowing one does not cancel out the other.


  1. Funny; I've long had 'issues' with the 'thinking error' role-call out of self-help books written by leading UK CBT practitioners whilst in general supporting it: eg 'mind-reading' AKA empathy and social intuition! The real issue there is that they missed the nail; and didn't realise the issue was a lack of hope - the negative filter! If you think another person has bad thoughts about you as in the examples - it's a lack of hope there about their nature! Hope is really powerful - and think perhaps however it words itself - like a counterpart of love and trust - it can feel good and bad and do good and bad; light and shade! I find lots of varied feelings towards psychology in general; but i quest too and that can be quite pathological; and then at the point of realising that then there's not always enough rocks!

  2. I had not thought about that re hope, that it is also there in your interactions with, and feelings about, others. That is a very good point. Thanks for giving me a new perspective on it.