Dichotomous reasoning means that you think in terms of hyperbole, extremes, and black and white. When you focus on your thoughts, take note of whether you use words such as always, never, everyone, nobody, the best, the worst, or in terms of either/or etc. Rarely is a messy room or space the “worst you have ever seen” and no matter how rough a day you may be having, this doesn’t mean that “everybody hates you.” When someone you know makes a mistake, this does not mean that they are “pure evil” either.
Whenever you notice distorted thinking that involves dichotomous reasoning, try phrasing the thought in a complete sentence first. Automatic thoughts often come in the form of short hand words and phrases. The simple act of expanding these into complete sentences often reveals how absurd the thought really is. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, is it really the ________ (the worst, everybody, etc.). If you’re being truly honest and open about the situation (i.e. mindful) chances are the answer is no. Try rephrasing the sentence to better reflect the reality of the situation. For example, “although it feels as if everyone is mad at me, in reality it is only (these specific people), and the reason why they are mad at me is …”