If you ever find yourself feeling frustrated that things aren’t working out better or suffer from any degree of anxiety, depression, or low self esteem, then there’s a strong chance it has something to do with Cognitive Distortions. If you’ve never heard of these pesky bad habits, then you’ve been missing out on a huge opportunity to make your life better and easier!
To be concise, thinking distortions are ways we sometimes think that – when you actually think about them – make no sense and often destroy your mood, motivation, and chance at living a happy, successful life.
Read through the list below and see which patterns you recognize in your life. Sometimes merely recognizing irrational thoughts when they happen provides enough clarity for you to stop thinking that way.
In case that’s not enough, we’ll also provide examples of more accurate, balanced perspectives. Get in the habit of correcting your own thinking distortions each time you catch yourself making one. It may seem difficult at first, but turns easy as soon as you create some new neural pathways in your brain.
If you want even more help to correct your thought habits, then order The Feeling Good Handbook, by Dr. David Burns, who pioneered this topic. He provides a helpful worksheet where you:
1. Write down your thought/perception.
2. Write how much you believe that thought (for example, 85%).
3. Identify which of the following thinking distortions apply.
4. Write how much you believe the thought *now* (for example, 15%).
This is a surprisingly effective exercise. You can usually buy the book for a few dollars on Amazon.
- All-or-nothing thinking: seeing things in black or white as opposed to shades of gray; thinking in terms of false dilemmas and false dichotomies. Often involves using terms like “always”, “every” or “never” when this is not true.
Example: when an admired person makes a minor mistake, the admiration is turned into contempt.
Reconsider: does that sound realistic? Maybe you saw one example where that seemed to happen, but did all the admiration vanish? What about all the others who make mistakes and are not despised? Look around and gather more evidence.
Correction: we all make mistakes (haha, there’s a harmless all-or-nothing thought that empowers instead of disempowering!) and just because I made one today doesn’t mean I didn’t do a lot of other things well and come out ahead for the day! I’m a fabulous person! Read more “Thinking Distortions”