Select Page

Thinking Errors
Understanding and Addressing Them
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs

CEs are available at:

– Define Thinking Errors
– Explore the different types of thinking errors
– Cognitive distortions
– Irrational Thoughts
– Evaluate how thinking errors can play into our basic fears: Rejection, isolation, the unknown, loss of control, failure
– Identify ways to
– Increase awareness of thinking errors
– Address thinking errors
– Address basic fears

Why I Care/How It Impacts Recovery
– Thinking errors, or stinkin’ thinkin’ plays a large part in keeping people miserable
– Addiction, depression, anxiety, anger and guilt often stem or are made worse by faulty thinking
– Addressing these thought patterns will help you:
– Not make a mountain out of a molehill
– Focus on the things you can change
– Identify and eliminate thought patterns that are keeping you stuck
What are Thinking Errors
– Cognitive Distortions take a thought and manipulate it to
– Fulfil your expectations of a situation
– Conform to your current head space (negative begets negative)
– Irrational Thoughts are beliefs/thoughts that you may hold that
– Are usually extreme (I must have love and approval from everyone all the time)
– Are unrealistic
– Create feelings of failure, inadequacy, disempowerment

Cognitive Distortions
– Personalizing
– Mindreading
– All-or-Nothing/Polarized
– Catastrophizing
– Overgeneralization
– Shoulds
– Recency/Availability Heuristic

Evaluate how thinking errors can play into our basic fears: Rejection, isolation, the unknown, loss of control, failure

Irrational Beliefs
– If I make a mistake, it means that I am incompetent.
– When somebody disagrees with me, it is a personal attack.
– I must be liked by all people.
– My true value depends on what others think of me.
– If I am not in a relationship, I am completely alone.
– Success and failure are black and white.  There is no gray.

Evaluate how thinking errors can play into our basic fears: Rejection, isolation, the unknown, loss of control, failure

Irrational Beliefs
– Nothing ever turns out the way you want it to.
– If the outcome was not perfect, it was a complete failure.
– If something bad happens, it is my fault.
– The past always repeats itself.
– If it was true then, it must be true now.

Evaluate how thinking errors can play into our basic fears: Rejection, isolation, the unknown, loss of control, failure

Irrational Thoughts Quick Help
– What is upsetting me-
– Why is this upsetting me-
– What are the FACTS for and against this belief
– Am I reacting based on facts or feelings-
– What cognitive distortions am I using-
– What irrational thoughts am I using-

– Activating Event (What happened)
– Beliefs
– Obvious
– Negative self-talk//Past tapes
– Consequences
– Dispute Irrational Thoughts
– Evaluate the Most Productive Outcome
– Is this worth my energy-
– How can I best use my energy to deal with or let go of the situation-
Triggers—Coping Skills
– Distract don’t react
– Talk it through
– Urge surf
– Notice how you are feeling
– Remind yourself it increases and decreases like a wave
– Notice changes as the urge goes out
– Change and Challenge thoughts
– You CAN do it
– Don’t romanticize the use
Constructive Self Talk
– Pinpoint what you tell yourself about an urge that makes it harder to cope with the urge
– Use self-talk constructively to challenge that statement. An effective challenge will make you feel better (less tense, anxious, panicky)
– What is the evidence
– What is so awful about that
– You are a regular human being and have a right to make mistakes
Distressing Thoughts Worksheet
– What is the evidence
– Am I assuming causation where no exists-
– Am I confusing thought or feeling with fact-
– Am I close enough to really know what is going on-
– Am I thinking in all-or-none-
– Am I using extreme words like always or never
– Is the source of the information credible
– Am I confusing low with high probability
– Am I focusing on irrelevant factors-
– Is this thinking getting me closer to what I want-
– What are the advantages/disadvantages to thinking this way
– What difference will this make in a month/year.

Other CBT Interventions
– Recognize how
– Thoughts can cause feelings
– Feelings can cause thoughts
– Activity scheduling to increase positive emotion and mastery
– Exposure with Response Prevention
– Recognize Negative Thoughts
– Problem-Solving Skills

Group Activity
– List thinking errors and discuss how those patterns protected you until now
– Example: Prevented you from being disappointed if you expected to fail or expected people to leave
– Identify thinking errors that you can, currently, eliminate and a countering mantra
– I need to be loved by everybody all the time
– I need to love myself all the time and not everybody is capable of loving.  It is about them, not me.
– Identify thinking errors that you still hold onto and why, then develop a plan to start addressing them.

Decisional Balance
– This thought pattern was learned over a long period of time
– It served a purpose and was more beneficial than the alternative
– Changing your outlook means seeing how this thought pattern is destructive, and alternate thought patterns may (now) be more helpful.
– Example: In an addicted home the mantra is don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel.  For a child from an addicted home negative thinking helped you align with the primary caregiver and provided safety. As an adult, you no longer require that safety.
Apply It
– Identify 3 ways you could have used this information in the past week.
– What was the situation-
– What did you do-
– How effective was that for you-
– Short term
– Long Term
– If you would have had this new information, what could you have done differently-
– How would that have changed the outcome-
– How can you start integrating this knowledge into your routine
– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a technique that helps people:
– Understand how thoughts create feelings and vice versa
– Identify and address negative self talk
– Issues and events from the past do not need to continue to negatively impact a person
– Thinking errors are learned and can be unlearned
– These thought patterns help to form and maintain a negative or vulnerable self image.
– Healthy thought patterns can help people feel more empowered and worthy of love.

– Thank you for attending and please let me know if there are topics you would like me to cover by sending me an email at