Distortion Practice: 003

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

You are walking down the street dressed in your new red jeans. You noticed that a young woman walking past you looked at your jeans, and then looked at them again. You are feeling anxious and angry at yourself thinking: “She thought that I look stupid. I should have never worn these jeans and stick to the blue ones.”

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

She thought that I look stupid.

You are guessing that the young woman looked at you because she doesn’t like your new jeans and she thought that you look ‘stupid’. You are mind reading because you can’t know what she was thinking. We can never know what others think, for all you know she might have really liked your new jeans.

I should have never worn these jeans and stick to blue ones

You aretelling yourself what you ought to have done. You are using should statements. In fact, what you wear is completely up to you and even if someone did not like it that just means that they have a different taste to you and doesn’t mean that you should wear something different.


🌇 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

I’m grateful that you read this far! Please subscribe to get more exercises like this each week.

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