Rational Thinking Errors

Absolutes – Thinking in absolute, extreme, over-generalized or stereotyped ways. Some types of this error are:

  1. Stereotyping someone as good or bad because of behavior or characteristics which are sometimes exhibited
  2. Thinking about time in inaccurate and extreme ways. Using terms such as “never”, “always”, or “forever” when they are clearly invalid
  3. Thinking that there is only one solution to a problem or only one way of doing something
  4. Thinking that you never make mistakes or are always right


Awfulizing – Looking at things in a negative way. Some types of this error are:

  1. Thinking that you can’t tolerate an unpleasant emotion or that you will go crazy or die if you experience one;
  2. Thinking that a problem is more severe than it is; exaggerating how bad something is;
  3. Thinking that only bad things will certainly happen;
  4. Overlooking or ignoring the positive, advantages, benefits, or good points when you evaluate something (i.e. considering only the negatives, disadvantages, costs , detriments, or bad points.


Blaming – Thinking that other people or things are totally responsible when bad things happen to you.


I Can’t – Making excuses for not doing something, or declaring that you are not able to do it. Some types of this error are:

  1. Making a vague half-hearted commitment to do something, rather than stating what you will do;
  2. Implying that your reason for not doing something is due to a physical limitation, when it is really due to lack of motivation or skill;
  3. Thinking that because a task is difficult you should give up.


Deserved Luck – Believing that random events are earned by people.


Have To/Need/Must – Saying that you “have to” behave in some way; thinking that some behavior which you have chosen or selected was coerced or reflexive. Treating a want, desire, or preference as if it were a need.


Emotional Control – Thinking that you are not in control of your feelings or emotions. Some types of this error are:

  1. Thinking that other people, objects, or other things outside of you are the only cause of your emotion;
  2. Thinking that emotions just happen to you perhaps randomly or for no good reason;
  3. Thinking that the way others evaluate you is the way you are


Mental Magic – Believing that your thoughts or feelings directly control external events, or assuming that you know what other people are thinking or feeling.


Loaded Words and Put Downs – Loaded words trigger images that create strong feelings. Loaded words lead to unwanted feelings and emotions. Put downs are ways to disrespect someone else to make yourself feel better or attempt to put others down to your level of emotional state.


He/She/It Statements – Suggesting that you are not in control of your feeling or emotions and someone else is causing you to feel a certain way. Others may contribute to your emotions, but they are not the sole cause. You create your own self-esteem and your own feelings.


Statement of Fact – This is when you make an assumption or opinions about something and then present your opinion as fact.


Rhetorical Question – You often hide your thoughts in questions, because you really don’t want an answer. They are questions in which you are making a statement rather than looking for information (making a statement that sounds like a question). Example: How stupid do you think I am? There are hidden motives behind rhetorical questions.


Should – Demanding that they world be a certain way; demanding that the behavior of others, self, or objects be a certain way, usually the way you want them to be. This may take the form of demanding immediate gratification.

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