Distortion Practice: 009

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 have posted a joke on-line and noticed that only two people reacted to your on-line post. You are feeling very anxious and think: ‘Maybe my joke was offensive in some way, I will lose my friends because of this. If I am feeling this guilty right now, this must mean that I did something wrong. Even if I were to delete it now, people would have already seen it’.

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.”

  • 🎭 Emotional Reasoning – Assuming that just because it feels bad, it must be bad. Forgetting that our feelings are just a reaction to our thoughts. “I feel anxious so it must be scary!”

      

💡 Answers

Maybe my joke was offensive in some way, I will lose my friends because of this.

You don’t know that anyone found your joke offensive, nobody said that they did. You are mind-reading. You are also already thinking of grand and unlikely consequences of your post. You are catastrophizing.

If I am feeling this guilty right now, this must mean that I did something wrong

You are presuming that because you are feeling guilty, you must have done something bad. You are using emotional reasoning right now. Our feelings are reactions to our thoughts. You thought you did something wrong, therefore you feel guilty, this doesn’t mean that you are!

Even if I were to delete it now, people would have already seen it.

You are worrying about something that is out of your control as you can’t go back in time. Also, there are no reasons to go back! If anyone was to be in fact offended upon seeing your joke, you couldn’t have prevented it as you didn’t mean to offend anyone.

       

🌇 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