Cognitive Distortions || Breaking The Cycle

Cognitive distortions are things that we use daily. It’s sort of how we convince ourselves of something that’s not proven to be true, and use inaccurate thoughts to reinforce these distortions. Kind of telling ourselves things over and over again until we believe them. These significantly change how we see the world, ourselves and others; and how we perceive a variety of situations. Today I’ll be going over the cognitive distortions used frequently.

Overgeneralising

This is basically seeing a negative pattern based on maybe one or two situations you’ve been through. This produces some significantly inaccurate thoughts and can also become a habit. It also causes a lot of unnecessary emotional trauma and memories.

Blaming/denying

This is a bit of both. You either entirely blame other people for your own mistakes or behaviour, or you blame yourself completely for something that isn’t your fault. This happens out of guilt, fear, shame, narcissism etc etc. personal experience could also dictate this distortion occurring.

Shoulds

You conduct yourself a certain way and maintain that, you also expect other people to act exactly how you do and criticise yourself for failing, or criticise others for not behaving exactly as you.

A negative bias

You don’t see any positives, you can’t actually bring yourself to see any positives, just pure negatives. This often happens after experiencing a lot of negative moments and memories in life, you almost become accustomed to expecting constant negatives.

All or nothing thinking

Everything is black and white, there’s no grey zones in your thinking. Everything is a definite and nothing can be seen as a maybe or possibility.

Catastrophizing

You always expect the worst, no matter the situation. There is simply no positive outcome ….at all…. this is maybe the most common one I think. You sort of set yourself up to fail with this thinking.

Magical thinking

You basically think that things will be better if you alter something about yourself. Everything will be better if I get married, have kids, become smarter, lose weight, gain weight etc.

Labelling

You’re quick to label yourself negatively. You also tend to label other negatively. This can eventually grow into having a victim mentality i.e this person doesn’t want to be friends with me because I’m pretty boring etc.

Over-personalising

You think that what other people say or post is about you. You make things personal when they’re not. You will sometimes believe that other people’s opinions are facts. You also think that other people do things just to stir you up.

Mind reading

You make assumptions about what other people may be thinking. This often happens in arguments, you start to assume you know what the other person is thinking or what they’re doing. This can be done, but not always, on the assumption of someone else’s past behaviour.

Double standards

You maintain high standards for yourself, but not other people or you tend to have higher standards for other people than yourself.

Fallacy of fairness

This is when you think things should go a certain way because it’s fair to you. Things should go a way that may be fair to everyone involved and not just for yourself.

Emotional reasoning

You think that any feelings/emotions you have are in fact reality when they’re not. This can get in the way of any conflict resolution, beliefs and views etc.


Which ones do you think you use the most? I find that writing down the ones I think I use the most and brainstorming why and how to positively change it really helps to overcome those hurdles. If I’m being honest, I believe that I use emotional reasoning, mind reading and over personalising. I’ll admit, it’s very difficult to break the cycle of this sort of thinking but any small change makes a difference, trust me. You become less sensitive to the world and grow a more thicker skin.

In saying that, there’s is absolutely nothing wrong with being sensitive. I’m still a very sensitive person, you can be sensitive for a variety of reasons. I’ll most likely make a post about this too in another post.

Tips on breaking the cycle

  • Brainstorm why you might be using these distortions
  • Think of examples of when these distortions may have worsened an experience for you
  • Use thought changing activities i.e finding evidence that supports the thought you’re having and evidence that doesn’t support it; that way you break away from a false reality
  • Write down how you can change your thoughts: take a step back from a situation, don’t think something is about you unless proven etc

You get the idea!

There’s a few more cognitive distortions but I feel that these are the most common ones I’ve come into contact with. I’ve hoped this little post has helped!

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