1. Selective abstraction

We all tend to remember only one detail of an event and interpret it out of context. We expect what is predicted (e.g. having a panic attack on the train). If the prediction is true you think \“I knew it\”. If the prediction is false: it is ignored or deflected: \“it was a fluke\”.


\“That person looked at me funny earlier, I’m sure they’re mad at me.\”
(Even though we had a nice chat).

Think back to other elements of the situation to get a more contrasting and balanced view of things.


2. Disqualifying the positive

Turning a neutral or positive experience into a negative one.


When having low self-esteem:
\“Their compliments don’t really count because they don’t know who I really am… \”

Take the compliments and the positive as it comes and record them in your positive diary.


3. Labelling

Final judgments that one makes about oneself or others.
Way of categorizing, stigmatizing.


  • \“I’m a freak!\”
  • \“I’m a complete nobody\”

Soften your perspective by adopting that of someone who really likes you. What would this person say about what you just said? What is the sweetest thing they could say about you?


4. False obligations(\“musturbation\”)

Arbitrarily setting goals to achieve.
We all have rules of operation we are not always aware of. This system will favour certain actions.


  • \“I must, I need to…\”
  • \“I absolutely have to do all the tidying up in my house today.\”


Try to find the underlying arbitrary rules and see how you can relax them.


5. Arbitrary inference (hasty conclusion)

Conclusions drawn without clear evidence and one adheres to them without even realizing it. There are two subtypes of this bias:

1. thought reading (divination): when one believes one knows the thoughts of others based on insignificant clues.

2. fortune-telling error: making predictions about the future and believing them strongly.


In a person with depression and very low self-esteem:

  • \“I’m going to be alone all my life!\”
  • \“They haven’t made eye contact, they must think I’m untrustworthy!\”


Try to consider all the elements of a situation and come to different conclusions.


6. Maximising the negative/minimising the positive

Only remembering negative events (dramatisation) and neglecting the positive, exaggerating mistakes and minimising strengths.


  • \“I have failed this exercise, I’m really a failure, a good-for-nothing!\”
  • \“I found the solution to the problem but it was just a fluke.\”


This type of bias is common in people who are very depressed and with very low self-esteem. I recommend keeping a positive events diary.


7. Personalisation

Relating particular events to your own person.

\“What’s happening is my fault!\”


Very anxious people may have this kind of bias. Try to put things into perspective and find different possible causes for an event.


8. Dichotomous thinking

All-or-nothing law, with no intermediate nuance.


\“If I am not 100% sure of the outcome of my actions, then I am bound to be wrong and negative things will happen to me.\”


The more we are in situations that make us feel vulnerable, the more we reason dichotomously. Look at what has affected you and try to take a softer view of yourself, a more nuanced one. Imagine what a really good friend might tell you.


9. Emotional reasoning

Consider your feelings as evidence.


  • \“If I’m anxious all the time, that’s evidence that there’s something wrong with me.\”
  • \“If I’m sad all the time, it’s proof that I suck and that I’m too far gone.\”


Observe what deep emotion is being affected and respond to it first to calm it down and have a more accurate judgment. Then look for more helpful solutions.


10. Overgeneralization

A general rule enacted from a specific fact.

\“They didn’t call me back, I already knew that nobody could ever be interested in me.\”

Try to see the different reasons for the problem.