Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or distortions in thinking.
Many alcoholics / addicts and their partners become stuck in distorted thinking that needs to be recognised and eliminated in recovery.
Stinking thinking can be grouped under several headings such as;
ALL-OR-NOTHING-THINKING: Things are seen in black-and-white categories. If performance falls short of perfect one sees oneself as a total failure.
OVERGENERALIZATION: One sees a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
MENTAL FILTER: One picks out a single negative detail and dwells on it exclusively so that ones vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: One rejects positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. In this way one can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by ones everyday experiences.
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: One makes a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support the conclusions.
- Mind Reading: One arbitrarily concludes that someone is reacting negatively, and don’t bother to check this out.
- The Fortune Teller Error: One anticipates that things will turn out badly, and one feels convinced that the prediction is an already established fact.
MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: One exaggerates the importance of things (such as a goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or one inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (ones own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
EMOTIONAL REASONING: One assumes that ones negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
SHOULD STATEMENTS: One tries to motivate oneself with ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’, as if one had to be whipped and punished before one could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When one directs should statements toward others, one feels anger, frustration, and resentment.
LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing ones errors, one attaches a negative label to oneself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs the wrong way, one attaches a negative label to them: “He’s a goddam louse.”
MUSTURBATION: Placing over realistic demands on yourself. Self-talk such as ‘I must complete this today’, or, ‘I have to be at their place exactly in time’. Or, ‘I must be a perfect person’.