Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are habitual thought processes that we all experience at least once in a while.  Many people are influenced daily by cognitive distortions. They can cause a lot of unnecessary stress and really hinder our ability to have healthy relationships. Read through the following  list. Do any jump out at you? You might even recognize ones that you weren’t previously aware of. What do you think would be some way to tackle the vicious cycle of cognitive distortions? Are there other cognitive distortions you believe should be on the list?

Classic Cognitive Distortions or Assumptions

All or Nothing Thinking: think of things in “black or white”, “right or wrong”, “all or nothing” categories.

Over Generalizing: think of a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.

Mental Filtering: dwell on a single negative detail, and ignore moderate or positive things that may occur. Reject positive experiences… “They don’t count”.

Mind Reading: arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, & don’t check this out with them.

Fortune Telling: anticipate that things will turn out badly, and feel convinced that your prediction is a fact.

Catastrophizing: believe the worst-case scenario will definitely happen.

Magnifying or Minimizing: exaggerate the importance of certain things (e.g. your mistakes or other’s successes) and minimize other things (e.g. your own desirable qualities or other’s imperfections).

Emotional Reasoning: assume that the way you feel reflects the way things are.  “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

Shoulds: believe you must live up to excessively high standards, & may also have excessively high expectations of others.  You believe you should have known/done better, even when that would have been impossible.

Labeling/Mislabeling: instead of describing an error, you put a negative label on yourself/others.  e.g. Instead acknowledging your small error, you label yourself a “Loser”.

Personalization: see yourself as responsible for events around you that had little/no responsibility for.
e.g. Your friend is sad b/c her boyfriend left her, and you criticize yourself for having a boyfriend.

Jumping To Conclusions: conclude that something is a fact without enough evidence.

Probability Overestimation: overestimate the likelihood that something negative or dangerous will occur.

Compensatory Misconceptions: believe that you must inflate your achievements to be socially successful.

Adapted from: Cognitive Distortions (1999). The Shyness Institute, Portola Valley, CA

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Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 1:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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