Today I spoke with a good friend from graduate school about recent changes in her life. No matter how positive some parts of the change was, she found some way to think of the negative. We began to review what we had learned in school about “cognitive distortions.” We found that the both of us engage in some of these depending on the situation. Are you guilty too?
There are multiple types of cognitive distortions, but the 10 most common include:
- All or nothing/ black or white thinking: This type of thinking is “my way or the highway.”
- Should statements: “I should always be first,” “I should never take 2wks vacation.”
- Magnification/minimization: You exaggerate certain events or the negative and minimize (the “I don’t care” attitude) a situation.
- Over-generalization: You view a single situation (positive or negative) as never-ending, something that could happen again.
- Mental Filtering: You dwell on a single negative occurrence and focus in on it like a target. You can’t get your mind on other things. “Did you see how she looked at me!!!!”
- Labeling or mis-labeling: Instead of describing the situation for what it is (e.g., you filed your taxes too late), you begin to see yourself as the problem (“I’m so stupid, why can’t I ever do this earlier”).
- Emotional reasoning: You feel that your negative emotions reflect the truth, not error.
- Jumping to conclusions: You immediately believe the worst without first considering all the facts of the situation.
- Mind reading: “I know she thinks I’m crazy because of how I look today.” Have you ever said this? Mind reading occurs when you think you know what someone is thinking about you without you checking the facts
- Fortune Teller: You feel that something negative will happen without considering that perhaps something positive may happen.
- Personalization: You see yourself as being the reason for negative events.
- Disqualifying the positive: You point out all the negative facts without looking at the positive. You miss your beautiful daughter in her wedding gown because you just can’t get over her new mother-in-law.
As always, I wish you the best