Distortion Practice: 008

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 send a message to your friend. You can see that they have read it but they don’t reply. You notice that they are active on social media. You think “they obviously don’t want to be friends with me. It must be my fault” and you feel rejected and depressed.

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?

  • 🪞 Personalization: Similar to “out of your control” but with the added fear that you are responsible for the event thats 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

they obviously don’t want to be friends with me

You are mind reading. There is no evidence to suggest that they do not want to be friends with you. A more rational response would be to think that they may have had a hard day; they are tired and have forgotten to reply and they are scrolling social media to try and switch off.

It must be my fault

You are using personalisation and wrongly assuming that you are responsible for your friend not replying. This is not a fair or balanced way to think and there are many reasons why your friend hasn’t replied that are not related to you.    


🌇 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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