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Cognitive Distortions: Jumping to Conclusions & All or Nothing Thinking

Cognitive distortions are ways that our mind try to convince us that something is true that really isn't. These inaccurate thoughts often amplifying our negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves messages that sound reasonable even though they aren't true, and only serve to cause us to feel badly about ourselves. Jumping to Conclusions and All or Nothing Thinking are two common cognitive distortions.


There are two common types of this distortion:

Mind Reading - You assume people are thinking negatively about you even though there is no real evidence to support this. This kicks off a bad cycle - you think people are thinking badly about you, you then react accordingly, then people do start to think negatively about you.

Fortune Telling - You automatically assume things will turn out badly even though there is no real evidence to support this. This can also lead to a bad cycle - you make this assumption and then behave accordingly, which can then influence how things actually do turn out.

When you find yourself jumping to conclusions, take a deep breath and recognize that you're actually not a mind reader or fortune teller. No one is!


Another common cognitive distortion is All or Nothing Thinking (also known as Black or White Thinking) where we look at things as strictly one way or another. Such interpretations are often distorted from reality and can result in intense negative feelings.

In comparison, if our interpretation wasn't so strictly all or nothing, our resulting feelings could be more moderate, likely easier to deal with and have less lasting effect.

A big first step in stopping All or Nothing Thinking is to recognize and acknowledge when it's happening. For example, to say to yourself something like, "Oh, I'm thinking of this in an all-or-nothing manner. Such thinking may not be accurate and can result in unnecessary negative feelings. The reality may actually be somewhere in the middle." Give it a try!

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