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 created a new piece of artwork of your favourite character. You were initially quite proud of it but as you posted it on-line you received suggestions of other similar artwork created by others. You are comparing your piece of artwork with the others’ and think ‘The color in their work is so much more vibrant, mine doesn’t look this good. I bet people think now that I am a rubbish artist. I shouldn’t have posted 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!”
🪞 Comparing and despairing: Focusing only on the positive aspects in others and comparing ourselves negatively against them. ‘Their hair is so much better styled than mine, I look horrible in comparison’.
The color in their work is so much more vibrant, mine doesn’t look this good.
You are seeing all the positive aspects of others’ work and negatively appraising your own. You are comparing and despairing. Maybe their colors are more vibrant but who says they should be? What about all the other aspects of your work i.e. details, proportions etc. Focus again on the things you love about your piece and be proud of what you created.
I bet people think now that I am a rubbish artist.
You are guessing what people’s opinion of you as an artist is. In addition, you imagine it to be mean and very negative. You are mind-reading. Just as well as others’ can’t tell what you think, you also can’t know what they think.
I shouldn’t have posted it.
You are telling yourself what you should or shouldn’t do. You are using should statements. Even if in the future someone expressed a negative opinion of your work, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t post it or be proud of it.
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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