What are cognitive distortions?
The ways in which our minds can deceive us, making us believe something is true when it is not.
There are many different types of cognitive distortions that affect our minds.
Below are some of the most common ones.
If you suffer from any of the mentioned forms of faulty thinking or cognitive distortions, there are ways of changing thinking with therapy. The trouble is you might not even be aware of them, this is why developing our self awareness is always good. Sometimes becoming more self aware is all that is needed to resolves these types of thinking issues.
Types of cognitive distortion
Black and White Thinking
This is when somebody places things in either one of two categories, for example yes or no, success or failure. They cannot see the grey or the middle ground, simplifying a situation or event. The people who do this tend to judge everybody and everything in this black and white way of thinking, including themselves.
All the larger positive aspects of a situation are filtered out and then a smaller negative point is focused on. A person may focus on a single persons character flaw and completely neglect any positive personality traits.
Jumping to Conclusions
An individual may believe that somebody doesn’t like them without any evidence to support that belief. Another example would be, predicting a negative outcome without any reasoning behind that prediction.
This faulty way of thinking is when a person attributes the cause of an event to themselves even when they had absolutely nothing to do with it. Someone may also interpret general comments and perceive them as direct comments to them.
This distortion results in a person making a small problem or mistake seem much larger or much more important than it really is, this can also be reversed. This can also relate to character traits, someone may magnify or minimise these traits.
Blaming somebody else for something bad that happens or negative emotions. These people tend not to take any responsibility for any of the bad in their life.
This is mistaking emotions for reality, feelings and facts are considered to be the same. If I can feel it, it has to be true.
The Should Statements
These people stick to a rigid set of rules that they create themselves. They believe themselves and other people should or shouldn’t do something. If these rules are broken it often results in feelings of anger, guilt or frustration, either directed inward or outward.
If a negative outcome happened once, a person will expect that same negative outcome to happen again and again.
I like many others definitely have faulty thinking at times. As human beings faulty thinking can affect us all and one of the areas that interests me the most is people's perceptions of how others view them or how they view others. For example, you walk into the office in the morning and you say hello to your colleague. They look at you and either ignore you, look through you, or give a very grumpy response.
Most people's first response is to become paranoid, annoyed and then spend the morning wondering what you have done to upset this person who you thought was your friend. However, what evidence have you got that you have upset them? What you did not know is that this person woke up late, had an argument with their partner, forgot their home prepared lunch and then they got into work late. This had absolutely nothing to do with you and you were not the only person to get a perceived unfriendly response.
So before judging the situation speak to the person and find out what is wrong, gather all the evidence and then make a decision on how to react in future. When you have the evidence and you review what has happened to them that morning you can then decide how to respond and the chances are you will feel relieved and have a decent day. Having clarity in your thinking, taking a step back from a situation and being rationale will help to stop faulty thinking. I have quite often spoken to friends and colleagues about these scenarios but unfortunately they seem to repeat over and over again.
Do not believe everything you may think. Before judging the situation speak to the person.
Paul Brown – Cognitive Behavioural Life Coach & Personal Wellness Coach
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