Drinking Thinking Errors

As you know I started some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to look at my thinking around drinking.  Having done a couple of sessions I quickly began to realise that, actually, my drinking was a symptom of a much more complex issue than my inability at times to control how much I drink. Shit, this was not what I thought it would be.

In one of the early sessions we looked at some of the thinking errors that can occur that can keep us trapped in negative thought patterns.  These negative thinking patterns simply convince our mind that what we see is true when it is not.  These cognitive distortions are “maladaptive” and CBT replaces these “coping skills, cognitions, emotions and behaviors with more adaptive ones by challenging an individual’s way of thinking and the way that he/she reacts to certain habits or behaviors” (source)

So the main thinking errors are:

  • Black and white thinking
  • Over-generalising
  • Catastrophising
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Mental filter
  • Discounting the positive
  • Should’s and musts
  • Labelling
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Personalisation

Now I recently read this brilliant post by Almost Alcohol and with her permission I am reproducing this particular paragraph here because she has completely nailed my thoughts around drinking and I couldn’t have written it better myself.

Why is it here? Because it beautifully illustrates some of the thinking errors that I display and that she expressed on my behalf 😉

Shit. I’m pretty drunk. Shit. This wasn’t what I wanted to happen. Maybe I can’t drink normally. Maybe I’m really an alcoholic. Look at how I drink. Obviously I’m an alcoholic. I can’t even quit when I try really hard. I fucking relapsed. I’m a fuck up. I can’t get out of this. I can’t quit. I always thought I could quit when I finally decided to and I can’t. I must be an alcoholic, and most alcoholics relapse and can’t quit and keep drinking and ruin their lives. I’m just going to have a crappy life, I’ll be one of those people who disappoint their families, I’ll always regret never making anything of myself. Poor me. I didn’t mean to be an alcoholic but it’s too late, I guess. Life didn’t turn out like I thought it would. Sobriety is just beyond me, I have no willpower, I’m just a pretty crap person. I might as well learn to live with that. Fuck it. Lots of people are crappy. We all grow up and learn the truth, that we are just not that great. So I drink. So I’m a drinker. What the fuck ever. I wish I weren’t, but also I wish I were thin and dynamic and good at crafts and successful and I’m not. We can’t all be perfect. I’ll just accept that my life isn’t great. At least then I can drink, which gives me something to look forward to when I’m bored and depressed.

Over the next 10 posts I’m going to address each of those thinking errors listed above and we’ll play a bit of buzzword bingo and see if we can spot them in the paragraph above.

Starter for 10? 🙂

14 thoughts on “Drinking Thinking Errors

  1. just wanted to say that every SINGLE BLOODY THING in your list of negative thinking patterns used to happen in my head pretty much constantly. I mean. all the fucking time. sorry sweary. but seriously it’s as if you have done an inventory of my head. except the last one perhaps as if what is meant by personalisation is that you make a situation about you, don’t think I did that.

    one of the very early amazing things someone said to me on my blog was when I did a post on reframing catastrophising thoughts, and Christina of Running on Sober left a truly amazing comment which I still call to mind so often – probably once a day? which is that if you think you are dangling above an abyss then either (a) look down and you may find the ground is only three feet away or (b) call for help to the person standing outside the picture. I mean. just the BEST advice ever.

    and a lot of these negative thinking patterns not only have impact on ourselves but on our relationship with others. eg, over-generalising – saying to your other half “you *always*…” and really, is it always? what, every SINGLE time? and even if he does, does it help to say so, or does it throw fuel on the flames? sigh.

    great post. looking forward to the series. set up up and knock ’em down dear Lucy! like beer bottles on a wall. I’ll reload for you, if you like 😉 xxx

    1. I hear ya Prim! Let’s hope the series of posts doesn’t disappoint then 😉 xx

      1. I am already looking forward to these posts. Like Prim I relate only too well to what you have described. It’s funny but at work the children often call on you to help them if they are stuck on a rope or the climbing frame (I’m a nursery nurse) and I will say to them “You can do it. You are so close to the ground. Let go I promise you won’t fall.” I love to watch their faces as they decide to go for it and they find they are back on solid ground and they got there by themselves. Hopefully we will have enough faith in ourselves to trust and believe and just let go xxxx

      2. Hey Kim In my limited experience it’s not an easy process but the hardest part is seeing the thinking in play. It’s a bit like drinking in that many of us were happily overdoing it without a thought but once you know there is no going back (well for me at least). The recognition of the thinking is the same. It just gets a bit tricky when you are in a heated situation and you return to the old ways automatically – again like drinking! For me it feels like a natural extension of stopping drinking. Now I need to address the thinking behind what kept me drinking 🙂 xx

    1. Hey Jude 🙂 I’m beginning to get anxious that I might disappoint you all! x

  2. Reading this post, I realize these are just the things I’ve been working with my therapist on over the last few years. And on which I have more learning to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were fairly universal Errors of Thinking that drive many of us who have turned to alcohol for relief. I am thinking these Errors contribute to separating us from our true selves, creating the need for relief such as alcohol- and that learning to identify and circumvent these Errors makes it easier to connect with our true selves, and no longer feel driven toward alcohol. We will undoubtedly have some lively discussion here!

    Thanks, Lucy, for your honesty, and your commitment to helping others free themselves from the deadly trap of alcohol dependence!

    1. Hey Carrie! Long time no hear. Hope you are well 🙂 Thanks for sharing and I hope that there is a lively discussion as this is only my interpretation and view of the world represented here and I suspect others will see it differently so look forward to learning from everyone else too xx PS Happy Day 200 too! Woop woop!!

  3. Guilty here, too! I also engaged in these “thinking errors” so often, and having quit drinking, they are some of the biggest things I’ve been working on. Noticing the patterns is helpful, but it’s hard work. I’m looking forward to these posts, too!

    1. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in this thinking! And there was me believing I was ‘terminally unique’! 😉

  4. Going for the deeper meaning to my drinking was the first, in many steps, to not going back to drinking. And with a little time under my belt, I can honestly say there is room for me to grow in every area you touched upon in your list. Looking forward to the up and coming posts.

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