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 had a really challenging morning, you overslept your alarm and was late to work, and left some important papers at home. Few minutes into your workday your co-worker spilled their coffee all over you and stained your white shirt. You got very angry with them and said, ‘what is wrong with you?’ in an aggravated tone, they looked upset. You felt guilty afterwards and thought: ‘I am an awful person. They think that I am a horrible human being. I have lost my temper like this in the previous job and was called into a disciplinary meeting, I will probably lose my job over this.’
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!”
I am an awful person.
You are labelling yourself as an awful person. You are taking one of your characteristics- occasionally losing your temper and applying it into the whole of you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you have had a very bad morning and this incident doesn’t define you as a person.
They think that I am a horrible human being.
You are presuming that they think as badly of you as you think of yourself right now. You are mind-reading. In fact, you cannot know what they are thinking. Our thoughts are private, and we can never tell for sure what others think of us.
I have lost my temper like this in the previous job and was called into a disciplinary meeting, I will probably lose my job over this.
You assuming that just become in the past you were called into a disciplinary meeting this will happen again this time. You are generalising. For all you know your colleague might not even mention this to anyone. You are also making scary predictions of what will happen as a result of this. You are fortune telling and catastrophizing. We cannot know what future will bring.
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
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