In Mood Lifters we use Thought Journals, a tool from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in our Thinking Traps modules. CBT is the most effective program known to decrease depression and anxiety. In these meetings we discuss how to earn Mind points by challenging our thoughts that may be biased or untrue. We focus specifically on negative thoughts and how to reframe them in order to prevent us from ruminating and turning them into core beliefs.

There are many different Thinking Traps (also called Cognitive Biases and Cognitive Distortions) that exist. We cover 8 in our Thinking Traps modules, but there are many more. Three more are listed below.

Minimizing – reducing the magnitude of an event, or the significance of a situation, until it appears tiny. This is the opposite of Magnifying (also known as Catastrophizing).

For example, playing down a big promotion at work as if it wasn’t an accomplishment or worth celebrating.

Always being right – believing you’re always right no matter what. Being in the wrong is unthinkable and you are willing to argue until the other concedes, even if it is hurtful to relationships. When experiencing this thinking trap, being right is more important than someone else’s feelings, even a loved one.

An example phrase might be, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right”.

Should Statements – appear as a list of ironclad rules about how people should be behave. Can also occur as “musts” or “oughts”. The emotional consequence of using a should statement is often guilt. When we direct should statements at others, it is common to feel anger, frustration, and resentment. Note: We mention trying not to use Should Statements throughout the Mood Lifters program.

Example: “I should enjoy going to museums, but when I go I don’t actually get pleasure from going.” – a specific example from our meeting on behavioral activation.

Do you recognize any of these thinking traps? Which ones? Let us know in the comments.

Information for this blog post was provided by these sources:

PsychCentral.compacwrc.pitt.edu, and positivepychology.com