What Are Cognitive Distortions?
Cognitive Distortions are exaggerated and irrational thoughts. Eliminating these cognitive distortions can discourage things like chronic depression, self-loathing and anxiety. Cognitive distortions are ways that our brain convinces us of something that's not true. These negative thoughts reinforce negative self-talk or emotions.
Learning to refute these patterns of negative thoughts and irrational feelings is called cognitive restructuring, and is the basis for a type of therapy called "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy."
How Do I Fix These Cognitive Distortions?
1) Identify the cognitive distortion - create a list of negative thoughts and examine them to determine the type of cognitive distortion we're using. This also allows us to think about our problem in more realistic ways.
2) Look at the evidence - thoroughly looking through the experience allows for us to identify the reasons for our distorted thoughts.
3) Double-Standard Method - If you're prone to negative self-talk, instead, talk to yourself as you would a friend or loved one in the same situation.
4) Touch of Grey - instead of polarizing our problems into an "either/or situation" use a larger model - a scale of 1-100. Partial successes are more easily measured on a larger scale.
5) Crowd-Source Opinions - Seek out the opinions of trusted loved ones about our attitudes and beliefs to see if we're being realistic.
6) Define It - What does it mean to call ourselves, "a loser," "pathetic," or "wrong?" Examining these global labels will determine where, exactly, this feeling is coming from. And knowledge is power.
7) Re-attribution - many of us automatically blame ourselves for the problems we have. Look for outside factors and other people who've contributed to the problem. No matter how responsible we feel about it, it's better to spend that energy fixing the problem or coping with the predicaments.
8) Cost/Benefit? - Take some time and make a list of the pros and cons of feelings, thoughts and behaviors. This list will help us figure out what we're getting from feeling bad, identify distorted thinking, and inappropriate behaviors.
Types of Cognitive Distortions:
Always Being Right - we're always on trial to prove that our own opinions and behaviors are correct. We cannot fathom being wrong and will go to any length to be right - and demonstrate it.
"Always" and "Never" Statements - "Always" and "Never" Statements are declarations containing the words "always" or "never". They are commonly used but rarely true.
Avoidance - Avoidance is the practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.
Blaming - Blaming is the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Catastrophizing - Catastrophizing is the habit of automatically assuming a "worst case scenario" and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.
Chaos Manufacture - Chaos Manufacture is the practice of unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.
Confirmation Bias - Confirmation Bias is the tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.
Control Fallacies - feeling externally controlled allows us to play the helpless victim of fate. We assume responsibility for the pain and happiness of others around us, assuming that if someone else is, for example, unhappy, it's due to something we did.
Denial- Denial is believing or imagining that some factual reality, circumstance, feeling or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Dissociation- Dissociation, or disassociation, is a psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.
Entitlement - Entitlement or a Sense of Entitlement is an unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
Emotional Reasoning - we believe that what we feel is true. If we FEEL stupid and ugly, it's because we ARE stupid and ugly.
Escape To Fantasy - Escape to Fantasy is sometimes practiced by people who present a facade to friends, partners and family members. Their true identity and feelings are commonly expressed privately in an alternate fantasy world.
Fallacy of Change - we expect others will change to suit us if we simply pressure and nag them enough. We feel we must change people because any hope of happiness relies entirely upon others.
Filtering - Taking negative details and magnifying them while filtering out all of the positive aspects of a situation. Doing so distorts reality to appear darker than it is.
Global Labeling - the process of generalizing one or two traits into a negative global judgment, in an extreme form of generalization. Instead of an error being attributed to a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves.
Heaven's Reward Fallacy - we expect that our sacrifice and self-denial will pay off as though someone, somewhere is keeping score. When the reward doesn't come, we get bitter.
Hysteria - Hysteria is inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.
Impulsiveness - Impulsiveness - or Impulsivity - is the tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.
Jumping to Conclusions - without anyone saying so, we know what another person is thinking and why they're acting a certain way - especially when it comes to the way people are feeling about us.
Magical Thinking - expectation of certain outcomes based upon performance of unrelated events.
Personalization - a distortion in which a person believes that everything other people do is a direct personal reaction to us. We're constantly comparing ourselves to others to determine who is "better." People who engage in personalization may see themselves as the cause of an unhealthy but completely unrelated personal event.
Polarized "Black and White" Thinking - things are black OR white. We're either perfect OR a failure - no shades of gray or middle ground to be seen. When something goes wrong, you're a total failure.
Projection - Projection is the act of attributing one's own feelings or traits onto another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
Ranking and Comparing - Ranking is the practice of drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups for the purpose of raising one's own self-esteem or lowering someone else's sense of self-worth relative to a peer group.
Should's (Shouldn'ts, Musts, Oughts) - our list of ironclad rules about the way everyone should behave. Those who break our rules make us angry and if we violate our own rule, we feel guilt. Often people try to motivate themselves with a list of "shoulds," as though they have to be punished before they can do anything.
Overgeneralization - a gigantic conclusion is reached based upon a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad has happened one time, we expect that it will ALWAYS be bad. One unpleasant event is seen as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
Tunnel Vision - Tunnel Vision is the habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.