Don’t let thoughts kill your vibe: noticing distorted thinking

Back to Blog   Posted:   July 24, 2020 by

Don’t let thoughts kill your vibe: noticing distorted thinking 

You probably don’t spend much time examining the pros and cons of the way you think. Most people don’t, but to be honest, most people should.

Your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes not only have a big effect on how you interpret the world around you but you feel as well. If you find your self feeling bad and you’re not sure why, taking a look at your thinking patterns could be of great use to you. Thinking errors are something everyone experiences. When we’re struggling more than usual, our negative thoughts have the tendency to take over. Distorted thinking can gets in the way of, or cause you to skew the facts. However, you do have the ability to pause, notice what your thinking and shift your perspective.

There are ten basic thought distortions that we’ve all experienced at sometime or another. You may wrestle with more than one at a time, but don’t worry , this is common. Once you’re able to notice that thoughts are just thoughts and thoughts can be changed, you’re likely to start feeling better.


All-or-Nothing Thinking: All-or- nothing thinking is extreme thinking that can lead to intense emotions and behaviors. This is also called black and white thinking. When we’re stuck in black and white thinking we have trouble seeing the grey areas. 

Example: We think that one cupcake ruined our diet or that one test we failed will determine our final grade.

Be realistic and develop reasoning skills. Neither people nor life situations are son black and white.

Catastrophising: Castastrophizing is taking a relatively minor negative event and imagining all kinds of disasters resulting from that one small event. 

Example: You planned a party and the caterer is running late. Instead of focusing on what’s going well you catastrophize and think the party is ruined, that everyone will be upset. 

Now matter how great a disaster you create in your mind, the world is unlikely to keep spinning as a result of it. You’re probably more likely to survive these events than you give yourself credit for.

Fortune Telling: You predict that bad things will happen without any evidence to the contrary. You really have no idea what’s going to happen because it hasn’t happened yet. 

Example: You’re meeting your girlfriends family and you believe they won’t like you or you predict that you’re going to have a terrible day because you did yesterday. 

You’re better off letting the future unfold without trying to imagine how it will turn out.

Mind-Reading: With mind-reading you assume that others are thinking negative things about you or have negative intentions.

Example: You walk by your coworker in the hallway, smile and he ignores you. You assume this is because you did something wrong or he does not like you. Reality- he may be having a rough day and didn’t notice you smiles at him.

You can never really know what another person is thinking. Take a step back and look at all the assumptions you’re making. Come up with some alternative reasons you see and consider that your guesses might be wrong!

Emotional Reasoning: You’re certain your feelings are are facts.

Example: You’re friend hasn’t responded to your texts. You assume because you feel sad, your friend is avoiding you. 

Relying too heavily on your feelings may get in the way of you feeling good. Just because we feel a certain way does not mean we are correct in our thinking about a situation.

Overgeneralizing: Overgeneralizing is the thought distortion of drawing global conclusions from one or more events. 

Example: When you accidentally lock your keys in your car. You think “I always do this. This always happen to me.” Or when anger easily. Your friend is supposed to meet you for dinner and is late. You think “she never gets here on time. This is so typical.”

Situations are rarely so extreme that they merit ‘always’ and ‘never’ thinking. 

Mental Filtering: Mental filtering is a bias in the way you process information, in which you see only information that fits with a belief that you hold. 

Example: You believe you’re unlikeable and notice every time your friend doesn’t call you back you think “his other friends are more important”. 

Try to see the positive stuff about your experiences!

Disqualifying the Positive: Disqualifying the positive is mental response to a positive event that transforms it into a neutral or negative event. 

Example: You convince yourself you’re a loser. You lost a game and forget the fact that you’re record is 7-1. 

Become aware of your responses to positive information. Practice accepting positive feedback and compliments. 

Personalizing: You interpret events as being related to you personally and overlooking other factors. This often leads to emotional difficulties such as feeling guilty or feeling easily saddened. 

Example: Your husband comes home from work and isn’t interested in talking. You think it’s because he thinks you’re annoying him when the reality is he had a rough meeting.

You’re not the center of the universe. Look for explanations of why events have little or nothing to do with you.

Do you identify with any errors in thinking? Next time you notice you’re having a bad day, take a look at this list and see what needs adjusting. The more you practice, the easier gets. It is common for people to say that they tried a technique or experiment once but that it didn’t make them feel better. The reason for this is that once or twice is rarely enough. When you work at changing ingrained thinking patterns, you’re likely to have to try several alternatives before you see any beneficial change. Give yourself lots of opportunities to get used to new thoughts and behaviors and changes are likely to come. 

If you find this resonates with you and are needing some help, check out therapists on Denver Therapy Match who specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy otherwise popularly known as CBT. Good luck!

Lindsay Melka

I specialize in helping people struggling with insecurity and shame find peace and belonging. Much of my work


Addiction, Alcohol Abuse, Asperger’s Syndrome, Relationship Issues, Self-Esteem


Cherry Creek North