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  • Writer's pictureDawn Toups, LPC

Today's World (Part 1): Is It One Big Cognitive Distortion?

Cognitive Distortions are irrational thoughts and beliefs that have been adopted, over time, to help us make sense of the world we live in. These are distortions because they are irrational or illogical ways of thinking that only cause a blurred view of the world and typically make us feel bad. If you are a human being, you can probably relate to a few of the listed common cognitive distortions.

1. Mind Reading – assuming that you know what someone will think or is thinking without any shred of evidence to support your belief. (e.g., They purposely did not include me in their group text.)

2. Fortune Telling – negatively predicting the future. (e.g., I did not get included in the group text so I will never have any friends.)

3. Catastrophizing – believing that what has happened or will happen will be so terrible that you will NEVER recover. (e.g., I will be lonely and alone forever since I was not included.)

4. Discounting the Positive – undermining the positive things in your life. (e.g., The only friend that I do have is only my friend because she feels sorry for me.)

5. Labeling – assigning negative thoughts about yourself and/or others as permanent attributes or labels. (e.g., I am a loser (since I wasn't invited to the group text.))

6. Negative Filtering – hardly ever noticing the positives and only thinking negatively. (e.g., I may have been in many other group texts.)

When we interpret the world or life with cognitive distortions, we are setting ourselves up for a life of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and just about any other mental illness in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders). But wait, before you fall victim to another cognitive distortion:

7. Overgeneralizing – having a pandemic view of your negativity. (EXAMPLE: I can relate to two of the listed cognitive distortions, so I must be a completely negative person. No wonder I did not get invited to the group text.)

Think rationally: challenge these ideas with evidence. If you are reading this blog, you are alive and breathing and can change your way of thinking.

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