Distortion Practice: 007

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:


๐Ÿ“– Short story

You are making a meal for your partner. It is your anniversary and you have put in a lot of effort. You accidentally burn the potatoes. You feel disappointed and sad because you think โ€œIโ€™m such a failure, the meal is totally ruined, it should have been perfectโ€.

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


๐Ÿ“œ Common distortions

  • ๐Ÿ‘ฏโ€ Generalizing: Assuming that because you experienced something in the past this must mean it will happen again. โ€œA dog bit me when I was 5, therefore all dogs are dangerous and will bite me.โ€

  • โ˜„๏ธ  Catastrophizing: Are you focused on the worst case scenario? Regardless of how likely it is.

  • ๐Ÿง   Mind reading: Assuming what others think. โ€œThey probably think I'm an idiot.โ€

  • โœจ Should statements: Pressuring yourself with things you should have done differently. โ€œI should have eaten healthier today."

  • ๐ŸŒ“  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.โ€

  • ๐Ÿ•น๏ธ  Out of your control: Are you worrying about something out of your control?

  • ๐Ÿ”ฎ  Fortune telling: Assuming future events. โ€œI just know that something is going to go wrong and I'm going to be late for my interview.โ€

  • ๐Ÿšซ  Disqualifying the positive: Focusing only on the bad. โ€œHe said that I looked nice but he says that to everybody. He was just being polite."

  • ๐Ÿท๏ธ Labeling: Taking one characteristic of a person and applying it to the whole person. โ€œI failed a test, so I'm a bad student.โ€

  • ๐Ÿ”Ž Magnifying the negative: Judging a situation entirely on the negative parts and not considering the positive parts. โ€œI ate healthy this week, but I skipped the run I had planned.โ€


๐Ÿ’ก Answers

Iโ€™m such a failure

You are labelling and judging yourself in an overly critical way. A more rational response would be to remind yourself that no one is perfect and it is ok to make a mistake.

The meal is totally ruined

You are using a mental filter. You are filtering out the positives and focussing on the negative. You are ignoring the fact that the rest of the meal has gone well. Your partner really appreciated the effort you went to.

You are also catastrophizing and thinking in all or nothing terms. The meal is not totally ruined and your partner enjoyed the food and spending time with you.

It should have been perfect

You are using the word should which is putting unnecessary pressure on you and setting up unrealistic expectations. It is not possible for things to be perfect and having unrealistic standards will only make you feel bad about yourself when you are unable to meet them.   


๐ŸŒ‡ Conclusion:

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

Hereโ€™s another powerful tool for defeating cognitive distortions: Triple column technique.


๐Ÿ“š Read more


๐Ÿ“ฑ Practice more

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

๐Ÿ™ Thank you

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