Cognitive distortions are thinking patterns that can lead to inaccurate thoughts and negative emotions. They are often automatic and can be difficult to recognize and challenge.
Some common cognitive distortions include:
- All-or-nothing thinking: This is the tendency to see things in black and white terms, with no room for nuance or middle ground. For example, you might think that you are either a total failure or a complete success, with no in-between.
- Catastrophizing: This is the tendency to exaggerate the negative consequences of events. For example, you might think that if you make a mistake at work, you will be fired and never be able to find another job.
- Jumping to conclusions: This is the tendency to make assumptions about things without having all the facts. For example, you might assume that someone is mad at you because they didn’t say hello when you walked by.
- Labeling: This is the tendency to attach negative labels to yourself or others. For example, you might call yourself a loser or a failure.
- Personalization: This is the tendency to take things personally, even when they are not. For example, you might think that someone is ignoring you because you are not good enough.
- Tunnel vision: This is the tendency to focus on the negative aspects of a situation and ignore the positive aspects. For example, you might focus on the mistakes you made in a job interview and ignore the fact that you were well-prepared and made a good impression.
Cognitive distortions can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty in relationships
- Difficulty coping with stress
If you are struggling with cognitive distortions, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself. Some of these things include:
- Identify your cognitive distortions. The first step to overcoming cognitive distortions is to identify them. Once you know what your cognitive distortions are, you can start to challenge them.
- Challenge your cognitive distortions. When you catch yourself thinking a distorted thought, challenge it. Ask yourself if it’s really true. Is there evidence to support the thought?
- Replace your cognitive distortions with more accurate thoughts. Once you’ve challenged your cognitive distortion, replace it with a more accurate thought. This could be a thought about your strengths, your accomplishments, or something else that makes you feel good about yourself.
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness can help you to identify your cognitive distortions and to challenge them.
- Seek professional help. If you are struggling to overcome cognitive distortions on your own, seek professional help. A therapist can help you to identify your cognitive distortions, challenge them, and replace them with more accurate thoughts.