According to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), the following cognitive distortions affect our cognitions, emotions, and behaviours:
- All or Nothing Thinking or Black and White Thinking – eg. “Either I do it right/perfectly, or not at all.”
- Mental Filter – only paying attention to our failures, not our successes
- Jumping to conclusions – knowing with certainty what others are thinking through mind reading, or predicting the future through fortune telling.
- Emotional reasoning – making an assumption that our thoughts must be true because we feel a certain way.
- Labelling – eg. “I’m useless”, or “I’m incompetent”
- Over generalizing – eg. “everything is always this way for me”
- Disqualifying the positive – not counting the good things you have done.
- Magnification (catastrophizing) and Minimization – blowing something out of proportion, and minimizing something to make it seem less important.
- Should statements/Must statements – using harsh critical words on self internally, and/or others. These tend to induce guilt, and may make us feel like we have failed.
- Personalization – blaming ourselves or taking blame for things that are not our fault. Conversely, blaming others for things that are not their fault, and may be our fault.
Rooted in deeper core beliefs, these cognitive distortions are ways our mind convinces us of things that are not true. These unhelpful ways of thinking reinforce negative behaviour patterns and emotions – telling us things that may sound rational and accurate, but only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. They perpetuate feelings of guilt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, and depression.
In doing so, these negative thinking styles prevent us from living healthy, meaningful lives, and forming, and maintaining healthy relationships.
If we want to overcome these, we need to recognize and acknowledge them, challenge them, and replace them with more rational or self compassionate thoughts.
If you’re having a hard time with some of these unhelpful thinking styles, it can be helpful to talk to a professional.
Please know there is help out there and you don’t have to suffer in silence.