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 received results for a couple of college assignments and a test you completed. You received a very good grade for your test and fairly good grade for one of the assignments but barely passed the other. You feel deflated, angry with yourself and upset as you think: “I ruined everything; how could I have done so badly? I am a failure!”
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.”
I ruined everything
You are imagining the worst-case scenario that this last assignment will affect your overall grade. You are catastrophizing. It is just one grade after all, it might not affect your overall outcome.
how could I have done so badly
You are focusing on one grade out of three. You are disqualifying positives as you have received great results for the other two pieces of work and passed everything. It is overall a good result, well done!
I am a failure
You received one grade that you don’t feel happy with, and you are insulting yourself. You are labelling yourself as a failure where in fact you haven’t failed.
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
More distortions: https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions
Youtube: What are Cognitive Distortions?
📱 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.