Unlock mind traps; free yourself from faulty thoughts and beliefs with cognitive therapy. Support your naturall healing.
Living your life with unhealthy ways of thinking is like… well, holding yourself prisoner in a dungeon for life when all along you had the key to your freedom.
David Burns, MD and Albert Ellis, PhD, identified common mind traps (mistakes in thinking and believing) that can keep you stuck in unhealthy patterns. Once aware of these mind traps you can overcome them with the techniques of cognitive therapy.
Common Cognitive Distortions—Mind Traps
Dr. David Burns found 10 general categories of illogical ways of thinking that lead to negative emotional states. He identified these cognitive distortions after many years of working with patients and conducting research. Here’s a list of these cognitive therapy mind traps.
__ All-or-Nothing Thinking
A tendency to evaluate situations in the extreme.
“I got a B on the exam so I’m a total failure.”
Viewing a single negative event as a pattern of continual defeat.
“I didn’t get the job so I’ll never get a job.”
__ Mental Filters
Focusing on the negative detail and dwelling on it.
“I have a blemish, so I’m ugly and I’m not going to the party.”
__ Discounting the Positive
Transforming neutral or even positive situations into negative ones.
“Some one compliments you and you say inside, she doesn’t really mean it.”
__ Jumping to Conclusions
Concluding the worst even though its not justified by the facts. This one has two forms:
- Assuming someone is reacting negatively to you, but you don’t check it out.
__ Fortune-Telling. Predicting that something will turn out negatively and acting as though it is already an established fact.
Exaggerating the significance of a negative event or mistake.
You have to wait in line at the bank and you think, “I can’t take this.” Unless you’re ill you probably can take waiting a few minutes.
Or, it can be minimizing positive events. Someone compliments you for a doing great job that you gave your all to and you say, “It was no big deal.”
__ Emotional Reasoning
Accepting your emotions as the final truth.
“I feel unworthy, therefore I am unworthy.”
__ “Should” Statements
Trying to motivate your self or others by saying “should” or “must.”
These statements tend to feel like you’re moralizing yourself or others. They may cause resentment and end up de-motivating rather motivating.
Try using “want” instead of “should.” Feel the difference by saying these statements to yourself:
“I should do this.”
“I want to do this”
“I shouldn’t do this”
“I don’t want to do this.”
What did you notice?
Instead of just acknowledging a mistake or flaw giving yourself or others a label like “stupid” or “dummy” (sometimes called name-calling.)
__ Personalization and Blame
Taking on blame or responsibility for a negative event when there is no reason to do so.
Or, not taking responsibility when you have at least some responsibility for an event. For example, “If my parents had been richer, I’d be a success.”
Irrational Ideas, Assumptions, and Beliefs—Mind Traps
Dr. Albert Ellis, founder of rational-emotive therapy (a form of cognitive therapy) believed that most if not all emotional suffering is due to the irrational ways we construe the world.
His theory was that irrational ideas lead to self-deprecating automatic thoughts, which cause problems in behavior, limit possibilities, and restrict the ability to cope.
His list of these destructive ways of thinking and believing are widely used to help people challenge and replace them with ones that are more realistic.
The list is not meant to dictate what you think and believe. You have a right to your thoughts and beliefs. It’s intent is to help you look at how these beliefs may be harming you or standing in the way of what you want in life.
__ It is an absolute necessity for an adult to have love and approval from peers, family, and friends.
__ You must be unfailingly competent and almost perfect in all that you undertake.
__ Certain people are evil, wicked, villainous, and should be punished.
__ It is horrible when people and things are not the way you would like them to be.
__ External events cause most human misery—people simply react as events trigger their emotions.
__ You should feel fear or anxiety about anything that is unknown, uncertain, or potentially dangerous.
__ It is easier to avoid than to face life’s difficulties and responsibilities.
__ You need something other or stronger or greater than yourself to rely on.
__ The past has a lot to do with determining the present.
__ Happiness can be achieved by inaction, passivity, and endless leisure.
Cognitive therapy uses these common mind traps to help people become aware of habitual ways of thinking, believing, and perceiving that cause emotional pain, stress, physical symptoms, and problems in life.
Once aware, of these faulty ways of thinking you can have power over them. You can examine and challenge them and you can change them.
Don’t worry if you recognize a few. Most people have them to some extent. Almost everyone can enjoy better health and emotional freedom by unlocking these mind traps.
Print out this article and check off the ones that cause the most problems for you. Sometimes just being aware you have them is all that you need to change them.
If they are particularly a problem for you use the “Steps to Fuel Your Mind for Heath” in the “Cognitive Therapy” article.