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Errors in Thinking that Create Anxiety

1. All-or-nothing thinking: Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground (“If I fall short of perfection, I’m a total failure.”)

2. Overgeneralization: Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever (“I didn’t get hired for the job. I’ll never get any job.”)

3. The mental filter: Focusing on the negatives while filtering out all the positives. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right.

4. Diminishing the positive: Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count (“I did well on the presentation, but that was just dumb luck.”)

5. Jumping to conclusions: Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader (“I can tell she secretly hates me.”) or a fortune teller (“I just know something terrible is going to happen.”)

6. Catastrophizing: Expecting the worst-case scenario to happen (“The pilot said we’re in for some turbulence. The plane’s going to crash!”)

7. Emotional reasoning: Believing that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel frightened right now. That must mean I’m in real physical danger.”)

8. ‘Shoulds’ and ‘should-nots’: Holding yourself to a strict list of what you should and shouldn’t do and beating yourself up if you break any of the rule

9. Labeling: Labeling yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings (“I’m a failure; an idiot; a loser.”)

10. Personalization: Assuming responsibility for things that are outside your control (“It’s my fault my son got in an accident. I should have warned him to drive carefully in the rain.”)