Is Your Thinking Distorted? 15 Common Forms of Psychological Self Sabotage

A very helpful list of the most common forms of psychological self sabotage to enable you to better recognize the inner saboteur when s/he becomes active...

The inner saboteur. Whether you realize it or not you’ve had your dealings with him/her. Everyone has. Self sabotage due to the shadow side is a very real phenomenon that has the power to either wake you up, or destroy you.  

Or, as is often the case, it will take a much more insidious route, guiding you slowly into a life dictated by the beliefs of others, leaving little room for personal expression and growth, and leaving you feeling desperately unfulfilled inside. Needless to say, this can, and often does, result in depression, anxiety and many other mental health issues.

Even then, in far too many of these situations, simple protocol will prevail, and many of the root causes will fail to be addressed. This is why becoming aware of our habits of self sabotage is so important — and the sooner, the better. 

This list cites 15 of the most common forms of distorted thinking most people experience. It is a good place to start in the identification of ‘wrong’ thought, and should serve as a helpful tool in recognizing the inner saboteur — and the many forms of psychological self sabotage that come with it — whenever he or she arises. 

  • Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.
  • Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground.
  • Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.
  • Mind Reading:  Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you.
  • Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. you notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s”. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?”
  • Personalization: Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.
  • Control Fallacies: If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.
  • Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair but other people won’t agree with you.
  • Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain, or take the other tack and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.
  • Should: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.
  • Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true – automatically. If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.
  • Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hope for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.
  • Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.
  • Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You feel better when the reward doesn’t come.