12 Faulty Thinking Patterns That Destroy Your Relationships

Maybe you’re the ONE with the problem!

Cognitive distortion (faulty thinking) is a destructive, yet common mindset that wrecks our relationships.

Negative, repetitive, distorted thought patterns convince us of things that are irrational, deceptive and genuinely inaccurate. 

Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn't really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions—telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. 

In other words, we view ourselves, others and life in general through a faulty emotional filter which distorts our reality, assumes the worst about ourselves and others creating problematic emotions and disruptive behavior that damage our relationships.

Cognitive distortions (faulty emotional filters) are at the core of our relationship decisions. It’s why we choose to be with some people—and not others.

If we view our world through fear, anxiety, anger, greed, resentment, sadness, hatred, jealousy and envy, our unhealthy filters skew our perception of a potential mate. We will push away a quality man (woman)—and instead—we bond to someone whose dysfunctional behavior agrees with our own defective mindset; a partner who will accept and love us in spite of our unstable personality.

Cognitive distortions skew reality.

Faulty mental filters cause us to overreact to our partner’s intent.

Your partner is unusually withdrawn and silent or he's slightly curt with you. You assume that he is upset with you or he’s an asshole. He's neglect triggers your low self-esteem. You fly off the handle at him or you sulk for days. In reality, he had a bad day at work and he’s mentally exhausted. 

Faulty mental filters blind you someone’s true nature.

A boss or coworker overly criticizes you. You ingest their condemnation, you feel bad about yourself and you secretly despise them. In truth, they are the one with the problem—not you.

Faulty mental filters cause us to misinterpret someone’s actions.

A man spends significant money on you; you believe it’s because he loves you and he wants to take care of you. In truth, he creates intimacy and gains your commitment with money because he wants to control, dominate and own you.

Faulty mental filters provoke self-doubt.

A new guy doesn’t call you back. You jump to the self-incriminating conclusion that you did something wrong and you beat yourself up thinking you aren’t “good enough.” The truth is: he is an insincere, cheating dirtbag because he has a girlfriend or a wife.

Faulty mental filters manufacture irrational judgment. 

You want and need a man to take care of you, and therefore, you discount a man’s hurtful behavior and you commit to a man who is self-serving, emotionally detached and abusive.

Faulty mental filters cause us to misjudge others.

A person is very reserved and you label them as unfriendly and boring, or someone is gregarious, complimentary and they feel like your new BFF. After you get to know them you realize the boring person is extremely loyal, intelligent and conversational and your new BFF is self-important, insincere and unreliable. 

Dr. David Burns, author of the best seller “The Feeling Good Handbook” gives us a list of cognitive distortions that may be ruining your relationships.

  1. All-Or-Nothing Thinking: You see things in black-and-white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental Filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  4. Disqualifying The Positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping To Conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
  6. Mind Reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check this out.
  7. Fortune Telling: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  8. Magnification (Catastrophizing) Or Minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  9. Emotional Reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  10. Should Statements: You try to motivate yourself with should and shouldn’t, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequences are guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  11. Labeling and Mislabeling: You attach a negative label to yourself. “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him” “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  12. 12. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.”

(Source: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company)

Pay attention to your repetitive negative thoughts. When you feel insecure, misunderstood, victimized or fearful, consciously shift your thinking to unbaised thoughts that are based in fact (reality) instead of an emotion (your imagination). 

God Please Fix Me by Nancy NicholsDo you experience self-doubt and conflict in your relationships? I can help you re-program your faulty mental filters. Email nancy@knowitallnancy.com for a complimentary 30-minute Life Coach consultation.

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