Distortion Practice: 052
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 just got off the train, you noticed that the book that you have been reading on the train is missing and you must have left it there. Your friend lent you this book. You are very upset as you watch the train go with the book still on it, and think ‘I shouldn’t have taken the book out of the house! My friend is going to be furious with me. I am such an idiot!’
📜 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’.
I shouldn’t have taken the book out of the house!
You are telling yourself what you should have done differently. You are using should statements. The difficulty with should statements is often that they are based on the hindsight bias, you know now that you lost the book but when you took it with you, you didn’t know that it will get lost. Of course, if you knew that, you wouldn’t have taken it but you didn’t know it then. These things happen don’t be hard on yourself.
My friend is going to be furious with me.
You are predicting how your friend will react when you tell them about the lost book. You are fortune telling. We can never tell what will happen in the future. You didn’t mean to lose the book. The fact that you carried it around with you shows just how much you enjoyed it. Hopefully your friend will be able to see that, besides I am sure you can replace it for them if it came to that.
I am such an idiot!
You are angry at yourself and calling yourself names. You are labeling yourself. Things like this happen to all of us. Leaving a book on the train doesn’t make you ‘an idiot’. Try to be kinder to yourself, calling yourself mean names is only likely to make you feel even worse than you are already feeling.
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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