Did you know that your brain uses filters?
Cognitive distortions are faulty thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression because they lead us to see the world in a way that can be harmful to our well-being. Although we all engage in cognitive distortions from time to time and it can be completely normal, it can become a problem when it is frequent or excessive. I recently made a video explaining these mental filters if you are interested in watching click here , If not, read on.
The first step to living your life #nofilter, is to understand which ones you are naturally inclined to use. It might be a good idea to write down the ones that resonate with you.
Below are the top 10 Cognitive Distortions:
Magnification or minimization: exaggerating the importance of negative things in a situation or minimizing the importance of situations.
Ex: Catastrophizing: Thinking of only the worst outcomes in a situation; When your significant other doesn't call you, pick up your calls, or text you back for more then 30 minutes and you start to wonder which hospital to call first or wonder if you should call the police to file a missing persons report
Overgeneralization: Making general interpretations based on a single event.
Ex: The first sport you ever tried was basketball and you and your friends all agreed you were not good at all. You make an assumption that you suck at sports, are not athletic, and never try another sport again.
Magical Thinking: The belief that acts will influence unrelated situation.
Ex: Superstition type thinking, If i put my purse on the floor, I will go broke. Obviously these two things are unrelated but thanks to many grandmothers out these, you might never put your purse on the floor again.
Personalization: The belief that you are responsible for events outside of your control and taking things personally and blaming everything that goes wrong on yourself
Ex: You notice someone close to you is in a bad mood and you assume you must have been the cause for their feelings and completely disregarding other factors that may have been the cause.
Jumping to Conclusions: Interpreting the meaning of situations with little to no evidence. We often do this by fortune telling: thinking we know what will happen in a situation or mind reading: assuming we know what someone is thinking
Ex: Not talking to someone about something that is bothering you because you assume that they will react in a negative way.
Emotional reasoning: Believing that our emotions reflect the way things really are.
Ex: I think I am stupid, therefore I must be stupid
Disqualifying the positive: Recognizing only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive.
Ex: After an accomplishment, thinking to yourself that it wasn't as good as you had hoped for or thinking that anyone could have accomplished the same thing and not giving yourself enough credit
Should statements: Believing that things “should” be a certain way.
Ex: I shouldn’t feel this way, I should be happier, I should try harder.
All or Nothing Thinking or Black and white thinking: Very polarized thinking with little to no shades of grey. Thinking in absolutes such as “always”, “never”, or “every”.
Ex: I never do anything right, I always fail at this, I will never make it.
Labeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your mistakes, you attach a negative label to yourself or someone else.
Ex: I am such an Idiot, I am always late, I never get complimented.
If you found yourself connecting with a few of these cognitive distortions, you are not alone! They are extremely common but can really harm our mental health. It is a good idea to have a journal near by where you can write down your thoughts, especially when you are feeling bad and see if you are engaging in one of these. If you are, the first step is to identify an alternative thought
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Youtube: Mental Health Over Coffee
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Micheline Maalouf, M.S. is the founder and owner of Serein Counseling, LLC in Orlando Florida. She specializes in working with individuals who are dealing with anxiety including: generalized anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Micheline is certified in mindfulness and incorporates these practiced into all her sessions with clients to ensure they achieve the best results. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call today for a free 20-minute consultation (407) 721-6453