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THINKING ERRORS

Although everyone uses thinking errors, those that do not hurt others use intervention
thoughts to stop their wrong thinking and thus stop their wrong behaviors. If someone
uses thinking errors without using intervention thoughts, it is likely that they will violate
rules and boundaries. When we violate rules and boundaries someone is getting hurt.
Below is a list of thinking errors that people may use in order to avoid taking
responsibility for their behaviors. See if you can identify the ones you use most often.
See if you can identify the ones you use most often.
1. Justifying
In avoiding responsibility for their behavior a person finds a reason for what they have
done.
He yelled at me so I had to hit him.
They all did it so why cant I?

2. Blaming
In order to avoid accepting ones own faults, a person will find fault in another person
and attempt to put responsibility for their own behavior on others. They find someone
else or something else to be responsible. They blame others for what has happened to
them.
The principal had it out for me thats why I got kicked out of school.
If my sister didn't leave her toys out, then I wouldn't take them.

3. Excuse Making
A person will avoid being accountable for ones actions by blaming situations or things
for their own behavior.
I was drunk when I lit that house on fire.
I couldnt do my chores, because I had so much homework to do.

4. Hopovers
In order to avoid taking responsibility a person will avoid the issue. They will shift the
focus from oneself to someone or changing the topic of conversation to something else.
Did you complete your homework? Did you know that in Arizona, they dont have to
do homework?
Why werent you home on time? Whats for dinner?

5. Lying
This tends to be one of the most common thinking errors. A person will be deceptive
and dishonest by falsification or altering the facts. There are three forms of lying:
Omission: Telling part of the truth, but omitting important information in order to have
a better outcome.
Did you go to school? Yes. What he's leaving out is that he did not stay or he spent
all day on the roof of the school.
Commission: Saying something is true when it is not, or denying that something is true
when it is.
I completed my chores.
I did not smoke
Assent: Faking agreement with someone in order to get them to leave you alone.
Yeah, I will get my chores done today. And he has no intention of doing so.

6. Victimstance
When a person is held accountable for their behavior they will portray them self as the
victim. They act as though the world is against them. When playing the victim the
person does not take responsibility for changing any behaviors, as they believe they are
helpless to do so.
These assignments are too hard for me.
I cant play football because therapy sessions are during practice.

7. Anger
When a person is held accountable for their behavior they will become angry in order to
get the focus off of their inappropriate behavior and on to the anger. This allows people
to focus on calming them down, or leaving them alone so they will not
explode. Everyone has anger, however when someone uses anger to avoid taking
responsibility for his or her behaviors this is a thinking error. It is similar to a hop-over
in that the person is attempting to remove the focus from their behaviors.
You told me I had to be here, I didnt have to be happy about it.
I dont want to talk about what happened last night.

8. Puzzlement
If a person, acts puzzled or confused then others will help them, or not hold them
responsible. People become confused, however when a person understands what is
expected and acts confused in order to avoid their responsibility then this is a thinking
error. For example, when you ask your adolescent to take out the trash and they only
take out the kitchen trash. When asked the reason they took only the kitchen trash out
their response is: I did not know you meant to take all the trash out. They are acting
confused but they are aware of what you meant.

9. Uniqueness
The rules dont apply to me. The person believes that they are different, or above others
and do not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. People who use this thinking
error have behaviors such as cutting in front of the line, not following simple rules. They
believe the rules do not apply to them.

10. Catastrophizing
The person makes a situation bigger then it is. Thus it is too big for them to handle or
resolve. This thinking error is similar to victim stance in that the person cannot resolve
the problem. For example, if the boss is coming over for dinner and the person burns
dinner. They immediately believe that their boss will think that they are incompetent,
fire them and tell other potential employers of their incompetence and they will end up
homeless. With this thinking they are unable to problem solve and do not take
responsibility for their behaviors.

11. Minimizing
The person will make the problem seem smaller so they can avoid being accountable for
their behaviors. By reducing or limiting the true significance of a hurtful behavior by
comparing it with worse behaviors, the person is filtering out the effects on others and
does not recognize the effects of their behaviors. When you hear the words only and
just this indicates that this thinking error is being used.
I was only ten minutes late.
It was just a little bit beer.

12. Closed Channel
By secret keeping, closed mindedness, and self-righteousness, the person filters out
incoming information. This thinking error is used to avoid facing information and
opinions, which would require a change in attitudes or beliefs. When you are talking to
someone and it feels like they are covering their ears, this thinking error is being used.

13. Vagueness
The person answers questions without giving information. Their answers are not specific
and require additional questions to gain information.
Did you complete the assignment?
Most of it.
Where have you been?
Out
14. Super-Optimism
A person is unrealistic about what could happen in the future, and does not see any
problems. By using this thinking error the person will not plan for problems, will not
develop coping skills or will not develop interventions.
I dont need to study as I am going to the NBA.