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What do you know about Cognitive Distortions? When you drop a dish thereby breaking it, do you automatically berate yourself, calling yourself clumsy and “unable to do anything right”?

If so, your brain created a cognitive distortion and is reacting based on that distortion

This doesn’t mean that your brain, and its negativity, is right! All that it does mean is that at some point you developed faulty connections.

The great news? You can recondition your brain to drop this faulty thought process and create new pathways in your brain to think more positively! 

So what are these cognitive distortions?

Cognitive Distortions

Let’s start by going through the list of cognitive distortions, including a brief description of each, and an example. As you read this list, take note of the faulty distortions you use in your life.

  • All or Nothing Thinking/ Polarized Thinking- These thought patterns are extremes, also known as “Black and White Thinking”. Example: Thoughts such as “I always screw things up”, or ” I never do anything right”.
  • Filtering– Focusing on the negative, and not noticing the positive in a situation. Example- Your significant other makes one negative comment to you and you think the relationship is over from this one comment despite all the wonderful comments your S.O. has given you in the past.
  • Labeling– Judging yourself or others based on one experience and allowing the label to affect your interactions or interpretations. Example: You believe people with tattoos are bad.
  • The Shoulds– Statements you make based on what you believe “should be” instead of what is. Should statements about ourselves often result in feeling guilty that we can not live up to them, while should statements about others make us disappointed because they cannot live up to our expectations.
  • Blaming- Placing blame on yourself for things beyond your control and/or placing blame elsewhere to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions. Example: I should have known the cat would run into the road. -He shouldn’t have made me punch him.
  • Overgeneralization– Generalizing based on very few instances to an overall pattern. Example: My Miata is a lemon so I wouldn’t buy another Mazda if it was the last car on earth.
  • Mind Reading/ Jumping To Conclusions- Making the assumptions that you know what others are thinking. Example: Upon seeing a stranger with an unpleasant look on their face, you conclude they are thinking something negative about you.
  • Predicting The Future– Assuming the outcome of any given situation. Example: I know he wouldn’t want me there so I cannot go.
  • Catastrophizing/Magnification/Minimization- Expecting the worst to happen./Exaggerating the importance or meaning of things./Minimizing the importance or meaning of things. Example: On the first day of school, “This class is so hard, I know I will fail.”/ An athlete makes one mistake and automatically thinks they are a bad teammate, while another athlete takes the podium but minimizes the enormity of the award and continue’s believing she is only mediocre.
  • Personalization– Taking something that has nothing at all to do with you and making it all about you. Example: Someone is rude to you in the store and you automatically think “He hates me because I am a girl.”
  • Emotional Reasoning– Allowing your emotions to fuel your understanding of a particular situation. Example: Feeling hurt after a breakup and thinking “I am unloveable and will be alone forever”.
  • Jumping To Conclusions–  Making assumptions without knowing all objective facts. Example: Bob didn’t come to my housewarming party because he is jealous and hates me.

How To Change Cognitive Distortions

As I mentioned, it is possible to recondition your brain to think more positive. One way to do this is with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Start by identifying the distortions you commonly use, challenging the negative thoughts or ideas, and replace the distortions, or thinking errors, with more accurate thoughts and beliefs.

One way to challenge your assumptions and distortions is by making a list of all other possible explanations for what is happening. This may not be easy to do because you have been using these negative thought patterns for a hot minute and they’re embedded in your thinking. Do your best to have an open mind.

Doing this will remind you that there are many explanations beyond what you perceive to be fact.

Worksheets To Challenge Cognitive Distortions

Workbooks and worksheets can help you to systematically challenge your distortions head-on. These can help you until it becomes 2nd nature for you to question your thoughts on your own.

Use these worksheets freely to help you recondition your brain to change from being automatically negative, to automatically positive.

Yes, this can be done!

Don’t be discouraged! It takes time to break bad habits and transform them into good habits. Your negative mindset didn’t come about overnight, and neither will your positive mindset.

It’s imperative you understand that it will take time, and equally imperative that you understand it will happen!

Do You Need A Therapist?

If you are unable to shake your depression and anxiety on your own, it may be time to see a therapist. Yes, these worksheets will help you in your goal to be more awesome, but they don’t replace professional help.

Always seek help if you are suicidal, chronically depressed, unable to enjoy things you once loved. Seeking help doesn’t make you a failure. It takes a lot of strength to seek help.

Our Conclusion About Cognitive Distortions

We are in the process of creating worksheets you can use to help you battle the distortion you use.

It is possible to rewire your brain to be more positive. The power of positive thinking is scientifically proven to work!

Don’t give up on yourself! Stop the self-limiting beliefs holding you back and remember that you are a masterpiece!

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