Distortion Practice: 058
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 borrowed money from a friend and promised to give it back this weekend. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen spending you don’t have the money to give back to them. You are dreading talking to your friend. You are upset and think ‘My friend will think that I am an unreliable liar. I should have somehow stretched the money and made it work. 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’.
My friend will think that I am an unreliable liar.
You are imagining what your friend will think about you. You are mind reading. There is no way of knowing what people think for sure, however imagining them thinking the worst is likely to upset you and make you feel bad. Considering this person is your friend and trusted you with the money, they probably know what kind of a person you are.
I should have somehow stretched the money and made it work.
You are telling yourself what you should have or shouldn’t have done. You are using should statements. Should statements aren’t helpful because you are pressuring yourself. It doesn’t appear that stretching the money was an easy thing to do here and at the time when you had promised the money back you thought that you will be able to do this. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
I am such an idiot.
You are calling yourself mean names. You are labeling yourself. You are applying this situation to your whole person and calling yourself an idiot. Being unable to deliver the money back at the exact time you promised doesn’t make you an idiot. Things like this happen, you didn’t do this on purpose. Be kinder to yourself.
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
I’m grateful that you read this far! Please subscribe to get more exercises like this each week.