6.8 Thought Patterns That Cause Distress

In this exercise, we review thought patterns that can increase our feelings of distress and contribute to feeling stressed or anxious.


As you read through these, write (or discuss) a personalized example of ones that may be familiar.

All-or-nothing thinking: Seeing things in black-and-white categories, not considering shades of gray.

Over-focusing on negatives: Picking out a single negative detail and ignoring the positives.

Disqualifying the positives: Rejecting positive information because it doesn’t fit our beliefs.

Jumping to conclusions: Assuming we know “how” “what” or “why” rather than asking for clarification.

Catastrophizing or Awfulizing: Amplifying in our mind the “badness” of an interaction or event, which only escalates how upset we feel.

Overgeneralization: Taking one example as proof for a general rule.

Conditionality: I’ll be okay (or “it” will be better) when…

Perfectionism: Thinking we should always have all the answers, get everything on the list done, or make time for more “should–do’s”.


With each of these thought patterns, identify what you might want to do differently.

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