Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Testing Faulty Thinking

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We have talked about how maladaptive thinking leads to psychological and emotional distress. Faulty thinking is devious because it usually occurs on a subconscious level. You feel ruled in your life based on a set of objective realities that seem like they do not even need to be brought out into the light because they are so obvious.

However, these realities might actually be your subjective vision of the world. We become scientists together and search for hard data points that will prove whether your theses about yourself and the world are correct. Perhaps they can be adjusted slightly to more accurately reflect actual conditions. We test the evidence from your life and in the process you get to ponder whether you are content with your perception of yourself.

In narrative therapy we often talk about how a dominant story about you was created by others in your life, and it probably doesn’t reflect who you really are. In this exercise we look at how you have created an internal narrative about yourself that might not accurately reflect how the community sees you. The following are some questions you can ask yourself to help test the evidence. What would my husband or wife say if he or she heard my thought? What would my best friend say if he or she heard my thought? What data exists to support the validity of this thought? What data exists to challenge the validity of this thought? What would someone close to me say or do if he or she had this same thought? How does this thought help me in my life? How does this thought hold me back in my life?

This exercise is highly effective because it helps you draw more definite lines between your subjective experience of the world and the objective world. The state where your internal world is experienced as objective reality is called insanity. The state where you are not at all in touch with your internal world and see things objectively is called schizoid personality disorder. Most of us fall somewhere in between. Faulty thinking usually involves a subjectively held belief with lots of external evidence to the contrary.