(MARCH 2017)


Last month we looked at some Beliefs and how they are formed from your childhood Rules and Messages. This month will focus on THOUGHTS in the LIFE EXPERIENCE CHAIN and how these thoughts are linked to your beliefs.

Let’s look at how the brain operates. Being the most complex organ in the body; it has many different functions but for our purposes we are interested how your mind functions in its thinking process.

First point, your mind is much like a computer in that it stores everything that is put into it. That means everything you have experienced through your senses (everything you’ve seen, heard, smelled, tasted and touched) are stored in your memory banks. {We’ll talk more about that when we blog about TRIGGERS.} Everything you have thought, and felt through your emotions, is also stored. Your brain has different levels of consciousness (conscious, subconscious, and unconscious) so whether or not you are aware of it, everything you’ve experienced is stored there in your memory banks.

Second point, what the mind is told, it accepts, whether true or false, positive or negative. On its own, it doesn’t have the ability to filter and attach a value. So all the Rules and Messages you have received as a child is stored there in the memory banks as facts; in other words as truth!

Third point, since the rules and messages are stored as truths, the mind then develops those “facts” into beliefs about yourself, your abilities, other people and life, which in turn drives what kind of thoughts you will have regarding those things.

Here are some examples of what I call Twisted Thinking. It has also been called “stinking thinking” and “cognitive distortions”. Don’t get bogged down in the categorizing; it’s more important to recognize the habits.

These are patterns of Exclusive Thinking

Black And White: seeing things only in terms of extremes or absolutes. “She lied about that. Therefore she lies about everything.”

All or Nothing: seeing things in terms of empty/full glass philosophy. “If I can’t go this time, I’m never gonna be able to go.”


These are patterns of Negative Thinking

Overgeneralization: seeing a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat. “I failed my road test; I’ll never get my licence.”

Mental Filter: picking out a single negative detail and dwelling on it exclusively. “I forgot to bring the napkins. The whole picnic is ruined.”

Disqualifying the Positive: rejecting positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. “Oh, that! It’s nothing. Anyone could do it.”


These are patterns of Subjective Thinking

Magnification or minimization: exaggerating the importance of things “She forgot her pills this morning. Now she’s probably dead!” or shrinking things until they appear tiny “He never hits me in front of the kids.”

Labelling and Mislabelling: attaching a highly coloured and emotionally loaded label “I’m a loser.” or “She’s a saint.


These are patterns of Assumptive Thinking

Jumping to Conclusions: making a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that support the conclusion. “I bet she won’t come to my birthday.”

Mind Reading: concluding that someone is reacting negatively to you and you don’t bother to check this out. “Sally didn’t wave to me this morning. I wonder what I did to make her mad at me?”

Fortune Teller Error: anticipating that things will turn out badly and being convince that your prediction is an already established fact. “I just know that Joe is going to show up drunk again. We might as well cancel the party because he’ll ruin it.”


These are patterns of Grandiose Thinking

Personalization: seeing yourself as the cause of some negative external event which you were not primarily responsible for. “Ever since I moved to town, my parents have been fighting.”

Emotional Reasoning: assuming your negative emotions reflect the way things really are. “I feel like everyone is against me. I must be a terrible person”

Should Statements: trying to motivate yourself with should’s and shouldn’ts, musts and oughts. “I mustn’t make any mistakes in this job.” or “I ought to be able to keep the house spotless even if I am sick.”


All of the Twisted Thinking can be traced back to a belief about yourself, your abilities, other people and life, and those beliefs in turn can be traced back to a negative rule or message that your mind has stored.

These are the categories of negative rules and messages (see February blog). See if you can pick out what rule/message that goes with the different patterns of thinking.

  • You’re responsible for … (it’s your fault, you caused)
  • You’re a disappointment/failure because …
  • You don’t have any rights
  • You don’t belong
  • People can’t be trusted because …
  • Life is the pits because …

As a child, you were not responsible for knowing whether they were illogical and self-defeating thoughts. There was no choice about those thoughts formed at that time. You do have a choice as an adult about what thoughts you continue to have. You have the right to change them to logical and self-enhancing thoughts that validate and empower.

By changing your beliefs, you can change the patterns of thinking that you use.



illogical, self-defeating                            THOUGHTS                                logical, self-enhancing



irrational, damaging                                   BELIEFS                                   rational, healing


unhealthy, dishonouring                                                                              healthy, trustworthy

given to me as a CHILD                   RULES AND MESSAGES            created by me as an ADULT


Judith S. Carscadden