Distortion Practice: 001

Spot the cognitive distortions in your life


You can get better at revealing the cognitive distortions in your life with a little practice. Try identifying the distortions that are happening in this short story:


📖 Short story

Three hours have passed since you returned from an interview for your dream job. The interviewer told you that they will let you know the results by the end of the day. You are beginning to feel down and anxious as you think “I haven’t got the job, in the past when I was successful, I was called straight away. I will end up with no career and no money, borrowing money from my parents”.

Which of the following distortions are you experiencing? You can find the answers below.


📜 Common distortions

  • 👯‍ Generalizing: Assuming that because you experienced something in the past this must mean it will happen again. “A dog bit me when I was 5, therefore all dogs are dangerous and will bite me.”

  • ☄️  Catastrophizing: Are you focused on the worst case scenario? Regardless of how likely it is.

  • 🧠  Mind reading: Assuming what others think. They probably think I'm an idiot.”

  • ✨ Should statements: Pressuring yourself with things you should have done differently. I should have eaten healthier today."

  • 🌓  All or nothing thinking: Thinking in extremes. You are either a success or a failure. "She doesn't want to date me. I'll never find love.”

  • 🕹️  Out of your control: Are you worrying about something out of your control?

  • 🔮  Fortune telling: Assuming future events. “I just know that something is going to go wrong and I'm going to be late for my interview.”

  • 🚫  Disqualifying the positive: Focusing only on the bad. He said that I looked nice but he says that to everybody. He was just being polite."

  • 🏷️ Labeling: Taking one characteristic of a person and applying it to the whole person. “I failed a test, so I'm a bad student.”

  • 🔎 Magnifying the negative: Judging a situation entirely on the negative parts and not considering the positive parts. “I ate healthy this week, but I skipped the run I had planned.”


💡 Answers

I haven’t got the job

You haven’t received the phone call yet and they said they will let you know either way. You are fortune telling as you don’t know yet whether you have been successful or not.

in the past when I was successful, I was called straight away

You are assuming that just because your past employer called you straight away this will also be the case this time. You are generalizing, as this is a different person and a different job. The previous employer might have just been free that whole day, this one might have a lot on their plate, and you still have not heard from them either way.

I will end up with no career and no money, borrowing money from my parents

Yes, you are fortune telling again but you are also making big and scary predictions that appear to be quite a way off from where you are right now. You are catastrophizing when you imagine yourself 1) being rejected for the job, and 2) having no career or money.


🌇 Conclusion:

Everyone has cognitive distortions sometimes. But we can prevent them from taking over our lives with a little practice everyday.

Here’s another powerful tool for defeating cognitive distortions: Triple column technique.


📚 Read more


📱 Practice more

Download Bold CBT. It’s an iOS app that I made which makes it easier to do CBT exercises like this one.


🙏 Thank you

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A guest post by
CBT Therapist, BABCP, http://www.fenixcbt.com/ , fenixcbt@gmail.com