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 are visiting your grandmother’s house and while you were alone in the living room and taking your coat off, you knocked grandma’s vase on the floor. It shattered. You are mortified and think ‘Grandma is going to be so angry with me. She is probably going to kick me out and never invite me over again. I am such an idiot.’
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’.
Grandma is going to be so angry with me.
You are making predictions of what will happen when grandma finds out that the vase is broken. You are predicting the future. We can’t know what will happen or how people are going to react. For all you know she will not be bothered, after all it is just a vase.
She is probably going to kick me out and never invite me over again.
You are imagining a horrible outcome of this accident, and grandma being so very angry with you that she will ask you to leave and never come back. You are catastrophizing. This is just a vase, and you are her grandchild! Being a grandma, I am sure she has seen her fair share of broken objects in the house and dealt with it.
I am such an idiot.
You are calling yourself an idiot just because you accidentally knocked a vase over. You are labelling yourself. It was an accident; you didn’t mean for this to happen. Knocking something over doesn’t make you an idiot.
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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