Distortion Practice: 059
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 are attending a wedding this weekend. Initially you were excited to go by yourself looking forward to a freedom of it but now speaking to friends who are all brining plus ones, you are starting to feel self-conscious and think ‘Everyone will be paired up and I won’t. I feel like a loser… I am a loser! I will be free to do what I want but I will look like a loser with nobody to dance with’.
📜 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’.
Everyone will be paired up and I won’t.
You are comparing your situation to others’ attending the wedding and you are focusing on the negatives of your circumstances. You are comparing and despairing. Yes, your friends decided to bring a plus one and you didn’t, but you made that choice for a reason, focusing on negative aspects of this is likely to dampen the fun for you.
I feel like a loser… I am a loser!
You are feeling certain way and therefore imagining that this is the fact. You are using emotional reasoning. Not only are you not a loser but even if you feel like one it doesn’t mean that you are one! Our feelings often don’t reflect the state of the world around us.
I will be free to do what I want but I will look like a loser with nobody to dance with.
You are minimising the favourable factors in your situation. You are disqualifying the positive. You will be free to talk to everyone and not having to attend to your plus one, and be constantly aware and conscious of being the only person they know at this party. This comes with a lot of responsibility. There will be plenty of people to dance with and nothing is stopping you from dancing by yourself! It won’t make you look like a loser but an independent and confident person. Enjoy yourself and have fun!
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.