The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A student posted this:

Yesterday a friend shared with me his work through the "Feeling Good Handbook" by Dr. David Burns. First chapter starts with a list of "twisted thoughts" to watch out for.
Ten types of Twisted Thinking

1 - All or Nothing
"If I didn't get ALL I wanted, I've got nothing." "If it isn't perfect, it's worthless."
2 - Overgeneralization
"This ALWAYS happens to me." "You NEVER do things right." "I just can't keep nice things."
3 - Mental Filter
Why listen to what people are actually saying when you can just put your own thoughts into their mouths?
4 - Discounting the Positive
The good part was a fluke, or easy, or unimportant-- like getting back a score of 99 out of a 100 and spending all day wondering, what did I miss?
5 - Jumping to Conclusions
You didn't smile when I came home-- you've fallen out of love with and are going to leave me.
6 - Magnification
My ice cream has hit the sidewalk and my life is ruined.
7 - Emotional Reasoning
"I wouldn't hit you if you didn't make me mad." "I feel hurt-- you are abusing me."
8 - Should Statements
Coulda, woulda, shoulda, must, ought, have to-- anything but what can be done now. (Also known as "musterbation".
9 - Labeling
"She's a Total Loser." When past mistakes define present identity and eliminate future potential.
10 - Personalization/Blame
"He wouldn't hit me if I didn't make him mad." "It's all my fault."

This list had such an impact that I did it up as a restaurant take-out menu-- I can be heard murmuring, "and that's a number ten" as I catch myself or someone in my household twisting."

Through the creative process of making the menu, I spotted the commonality-- that these are all different ways of re-playing favorite patterns instead of being present in reality and dealing with the discomfort of real-life, real-time constant reassessment.


coxcrow said...

I think this is originally from Albert Ellis, a pioneer in the field of Cognitive Psychology and creator of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy.

Regardless of origin, a great list worth remembering. Thanks for posting it.

Some guy said...

These guidelines struck me as subsets of the three common thinking axes of pessimism. Martin Seligman developed and wrote about them in Learned Optimism (and they're based on serious research, not just another self-help theory). I just mention it because if a larger number boils down to three, it's probably easier to remember and apply just three concepts.

IYASU said...

all of your posts aren't coming in on my feeder....been going on a while now....

Andrea said...

I've used these for years. David Burns' books are terrific for turning around maladaptive thought patterns. Every once in a while I re-read his books for a refresher course :)

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