Stinkin’ Thinkin'

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This list is a compilation of many handouts at Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings

Polarized Thinking - Things are black or white, good or bad. If Iʼm not good all the time, then I must be bad. If Iʼm not perfect then I must be a failure. There is no middle ground. Youʼre either with me or you are against me.

Catastrophizing - It is catastrophic, (awful, terrible) when things donʼt go the way I
think they should. I Expect disaster, I notice or hear about a problem and start “what ifʼs” What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to me?” “ If we donʼt see each other every day, the relationship must be over.” “I will fall apart if things donʼt go the way I want.”

Perfectionism - There is a right, precise, and perfect way to do everything, and I must do everything perfectly all the time. If I do anything less than perfect, I am a failure. If others do things less than perfect, they are disrespecting or disappointing me.

Approval - I must be approved of and loved by all people in my life, all the time. I can only be okay if everyone likes and approves of me all the time.

Over-caring for Others - I should take care of other people at all times and make sure they are always happy.

Blame - I blame myself or others for problems I may not be entirely responsible for. There must be a person to assign blame on every time something goes wrong. “It is my parents fault that my marriage failed.”

Avoidance - Itʼs easier to avoid problems than to face certain difficulties and responsibilities. If I ignore the problem it will go away.

Fallacy of Fairness - Life should always be fair. People should always be fair. I know what is fair but others wonʼt agree with me. “It is not fair that you are happily married and I am still single.”

Being Right - I must prove that my opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong
is unthinkable and I will go to any lengths to prove that I am right. I have to be right or I am not okay.

Dependency - There should be someone stronger and more responsible than me
to rely on and take care of me and my needs. If someone has more education or makes more money than me, they surely know more what is best for me more than I do.

Helplessness - What happened in my past determines my present life. I canʼt change, act or think differently even if I want to. I am a victim of fate, others, society....I am controlled by others and by circumstances around me.

Worry - If there is a chance something could go wrong, I should worry about it.

Emotional Irresponsibility - My feelings, happiness and emotions are caused by others and I have no control over them.

Fallacy of Change - I expect (so and so) to change to suite me. I need to change (so and so) if I am to be happy. If I need to pressure (so and so) into feeling guilty in order to make them change. “If you could be more ___ then I could be_____.”

Overgeneralization - I come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once I expect it to happen over and over again. You see one bad event as a never-ending pattern.

Mind Reading - Without their saying so, I know what people are feeling and why
they act the way they do. In particular, I am able to divine how people are feeling towards me and know why they do what they do. “The reason you are doing that is to get other peopleʼs attention.”

Personalization - Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction towards me. You see yourself as the cause of some external event. I also compare myself to others, trying to determine whoʼs smarter, better looking, etc.

Control Fallacies - I feel externally controlled, I see myself as helpless and a victim of fate. There are powers out there who control me and I have no control.

Shoulds/Oughts - I have a list of ironclad rules about how all people should act. I get angry when other people break the rules and feel guilty when I break the rules. I try to motivate myself with a list of shouldsoughtsmusts, and have-toʼs. I hold other people to my standards, “You should never wear brown in the spring.”

Emotional Reasoning - What I feel must be true—automatically. If I feel that I am stupid and boring, I must be stupid and boring. If I am depressed, life must be pointless.

Global Labeling - I generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. “I knew he was not good from the first time I saw him.” “Europeans are superior.”

Heavenʼs Reward Fallacy: I expect all my sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. I feel bitter when the reward doesnʼt come. “After the good life I have lived, this shouldnʼt be happening to me!”

Mental Filter - I pick out a negative detail and dwell on it exclusively. “The party would have been great except that the pictures didnʼt turn out.”

Jumping to Conclusions - I jump to my own conclusions without facts to substantiate it.

Fortune Telling - I anticipate things will turn out a certain way and am convinced my prediction is an already established fact.

Magnification/Minimization - You exaggerate the importance of things (my goof destroyed my life). I underestimate my achievements or exaggerate someone elseʼs goof.

All or Nothing Thinking - Black and white categories. If I get only 99 questions correct on a possible 100, I have failed.

Disqualify the positive - I reject positive experiences as if they donʼt count, which maintains the negative belief that contradicts the experience.

Fortune Telling - I anticipate that things will turn out a certain way, and I am convinced that my prediction is already an established fact.

Magical Thinking - If I will just _____, this person will change and be what I need him/ her to be.

Labeling and Mislabeling - This is an extreme form of overgeneralizing. “Because I made a mistake, I am a loser.” “Because you hurt your brother you are a bad boy.”

Dependency - I am always looking for or relying on someone who seems wiser and stronger to take care of me or make decisions for me. The only way to keep from being abandoned or rejected is to comply to the will and demands of others.

Endless Leisure and Pleasure - Happiness means no responsibility, no problems and endless play or relaxation. There should be no pain in life, only pleasure.

Self Blame - If my spouse wants to get out of the marriage, it must be because I have done something wrong. When others disapprove of me, it can only mean I have done something wrong. I can only be okay when I can win back their approval.

Alone - Being alone is unacceptable. I can only be OK if others are with me.

Dependency - My value as a person depends on who I am with, how much I can accomplish or what I achieve. Good relationships are based on someone taking care of me and providing everything for me so I donʼt have to worry about anything. I am responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around me or they for me.

Anger is wrong - It is wrong to be angry and I must always show a happy countenance and approval, no matter what happens.

Self Care Fallacy - It is bad to ever think of yourself. Good relationships are based on constant giving to the other person and never taking yourself or your own needs into consideration.

Misc - Intense irritation or disruption of happiness or serenity if something goes wrong.

Fear - If something or someone is unknown, there should be fear and uncertainty about them.

Fragile - People cannot handle hurt or disappointment.