Another CBT look at common irrational thinking habits…


Let’s take a fresh look at the common ‘irrational cognitions’ or ‘unhealthy thinking habits’ that human beings with stress disorders are wired for.

All of us do many of the thinking habits [listed at the end of this post] some of the time, but when stress becomes a disorder and causes a shift in thinking, we do many of them most of the time.

The science of today’s leading psychotherapy:

Do you want to be happier? Use CBT to develop non-judgemental self awareness, and the skills to recognise and examine your thinking and beliefs, and to thought stop, and reappraise and change your mind – based on evidence, not emotions or assumptions.

Start now by giving thought to your thinking.

And please remember, there is no right or wrong or good or bad here – this is science, it simply is what it is. Stress disorders are an actual condition, so give yourself a break, step back, go for an abstract view.

definitionmentalhealthvAim to:

Become your own non-judgmental therapist. Become your own rational thinking partner. Mind yourself.

Unconditionally accept yourself, (and others) – self and other critique without bitterness or malice.

Be fascinated by the way we are primally wired to see hazards and dangers, and to put up our ego defence mechanisms in order to rationalise almost anything with convoluted unhelpful self regarding mental filtering.

For example:

Be fascinated at how we think we are problem solving by anticipating awfulness and avoiding it, when actually we are largely creating our own upsettness and then practicing classic ‘avoidant behaviour’ because of anxiety and fear.  Crippling ourselves into corners.

Be fascinated at how we think we are problem solving by ‘seeing’ badness in people and punishing it, when actually we are largely creating our own upsettness and then lashing out because of ‘mind reading’ and our inflexible and irrational ‘must should & ought’ rules for living that we try to impose on everybody and everything.

epictetusquoteVThese habits become ingrained and automatic and hardwired, causing inappropriate extreme emotional and physical responses, which prompt self sabotaging behaviours… But the brain is not fixed hard circuits like a computer, it is ‘plastic’ and malleable, so we can re-wire it (literally). Read on….

Have a read through the habits, and consider each without prejudice, asking yourself the following :

  • Do I do these? Do I own any of these habits?
  • What kind of thoughts and beliefs do I have that fit this model?
  • Do I often upset myself, and have extreme emotional and behavioural responses to people or situations that are, frankly, over the top and a bit ridiculous?’.
  • Does this kind of thinking cause ‘emotional reasoning’, so that I don’t realise that feelings are not facts, and I don’t realise that it’s largely my negative thinking condition that is causing the feeling, rather than the actual situation, which is often benign? Do I think ‘I feel bad, therefore ‘it’ is bad’?
  • Is it possible that I, like many millions of other people in the world, have developed a stress disorder that is causing distorted thinking?

feelingshealthyunhealthyGive some thought also to your likely various behavioural responses if you totally accept this kind of reasoning – and see if you can identify a pattern of self sabotaging behaviours.

If you come to conclusions that you are battling a disorder and have unhealthy thinking – then go to the chronological ordering of posts and work through the theory and application exercises to begin healthy change.

And download handouts and exercises HERE.

Right. Go for it. Have a good time (seriously). Change your life.



Common unhealthy thinking habits:

Precede all of the following thinking habits with ‘negative’…

Fortune telling:


I’ll never be in a happy relationship, so I’m not even going to bother looking for one.

I’ll go, but it’s going to be horrible and I won’t have a good time.

There’s nothing to look forward to. I’m screwed.


Mind Reading:


She’s jealous of me and hates me, she’s always looking for a way to get at me, the stupid bitch.

He’s so full of himself, he thinks he’s above us, that’s we’re not cool enough for him.

My boss doesn’t really respect me, he thinks that I’m not attractive enough for that promotion.


Judging and labelling:


She’s a nasty snob.

He’s a lazy useless lump.

He hates women, he’s a mysogynistic pig.


Must Should Oughting:


OMG. How dare he [think / feel / behave] like that?!

She shouldn’t dress like that, it’s ridiculous. She’s ridiculous. Ugh.

They ought to be respectful to me, and they should and must behave as I think they ought, or else they’re awful and rotten, and I’m a victim, and… I’ll have to punish them.




Look at this traffic, it’s AWFUL, OMG!

My jeans are too tight, I’m FAT, it’s AWFUL!

My app won’t load, OMG, it’s AWFUL!


Coulda Shoulda Woulding:


If I had been normal and married her I’d have a lovely house and family now.

If he hadn’t been such a nutter I’d have been a director in that company.

If I’d been treated well and minded I’d have a happy full life by now.


Criticising Self:


I never get anything right.

I’m not like other people, I’ll never be normal.

I’m a rotten friend, people don’t really like me.


Criticising Others:


He’s a rotten friend.

She’s so incredibly selfish, a horrible person.

He’s so weak, so stupid, why does anybody want to hang out with him?


Black and White Thinking:


If I emigrate it probably won’t be easy and great fun, it will more likely be really hard and miserable.

I’m not applying for that job, it would take too long to get to grips with it and get to a level I should be at at my age. It wouldn’t be wonderful, it would be incredibly stressful and horrible.

The party will either be really brilliant if I look great, or completely awful if I’m spotty and fat.


Comparing and rating:


Oh God, look at her skin, it’s beautiful. Mine is disgusting.

He’s so successful, he’s got it all. I’m a mess.

I’m thinner and younger than her, God love her, she’s mutton dressed as lamb.


Mountains out of Molehills:


He didn’t invite me to the dinner with the others – how dare he? How dare they allow it? Oh God, oh God, oh God….

I have a spot! On my nose! I want to die!

He didn’t do the dishes. He promised he’d do them. That’s IT!


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