Thoughts That Trigger Anxiety and Anger and Can Ruin Relationships

Thoughts that trigger anxiety and anger and can ruin relationships - like sense of entitlement or urge to punish.

Are some of these fallacies creating stress for you in a relationship?

Entitlement fallacy:

The belief is that because I want something very much, I ought to have it...the feeling that there are certain things that I am entitled to. (Fight this fallacy by realizing the other person is free to say no, and that although you have your limits, the other person does also.)

Fallacy of fairness:

The idea that there is some absolute standard of correct and fair behavior in interpersonal relationships...the conviction that relationships must be fair. (Fight this fallacy by recognizing that all needs of all parties are equally important and legitimate, and both parties can negotiate as peers.)

Fallacy of change:

The assumption that you really can have control over and change another person's behavior. (Remember that people will change only when they want to and the only person's behavior you can change is your own.)

The Letting it Out fallacy:

The belief that people who hurt you must be punished. (Keep in mind that punishment or revenge won't get you what you want.)

Conditional Assumptions:

The assumption that behaviors of others have special meaning, such as "if you loved me, you'd have done dishes tonight". (Recall that disappointment doesn't necessarily mean that you or your partner doesn't care.)

Good/Bad Dichotomizing:

The belief that people are good or bad, right or wrong, not seeing "shades of gray" or any less polarized view of another person or their behaviors. (Work on judging less, and allowing others to hold beliefs and ideas that are different from yours. When your needs conflict with others recall that there is not necessarily a right or wrong way of doing things, only that your needs at a given moment conflict with your partner's.)

Assumed Intent:

The tendency to make guesses about how others feel and think without checking it out. Mindreading. (Assume nothing - or check it out!!!)


Making things worse by focusing and "blowing up" the negative aspects of the situation (and usually minimizing the positive aspects.) (Work on not using words like always, never, and strive towards accuracy rather than exaggeration.)

Global Labelling:

Using words to label others, such as "my boss is an imbecile; my mother is neurotic; my father is stupid; I am a jerk, etc. (Work on not labeling. Instead, be specific about which behavior you observe.)

Adapted from McKay, Matthew, et al, "When Anger Hurts, Quieting the Storm Within," 1989, New Harbinger Publications, California


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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, March 21). Thoughts That Trigger Anxiety and Anger and Can Ruin Relationships, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: May 5, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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