10 Cognitive Distortions

Which of these do you do? Check the areas below that you might like to discuss with your coach.

  •  All or Nothing Thinking: Seeing things as black-or-white, right-or-wrong wiith nothing inbetween. Essentially, if I’m not perfect then I’m a failure.
    • I didn’t finish writing that paper so it was a complete waste of time.
    • There’s no point in playing if I’m not 100% in shape.    Ÿ They didn’t show, they’re completely unreliable! 
  • Overgeneralization: Using words like always, never in relation to a single event or experience.
    • I’ll never get that promotion             Ÿ She always does that…
  • Minimising or Magnifying (Also Catastrophizing):
    Seeing things as dramatically more or less important than they actually are. Often creating a “catastrophe” that follows.
    • Because my boss publicly thanked her she’ll get that promotion, not me (even though I had a great performance review and just won an industry award).
    • I forgot that email! That means my boss won’t trust me again, I won’t get that raise and my wife will leave me.
  • “Shoulds”: Using “should”, “need to”, “must”, “ought to” to motivate oneself, then feeling guilty when you don’t follow through (or anger and resentment when someone else doesn’t follow through).
    • I should have got the painting done this weekend.
    • They ought to have been more considerate of my feelings, they should know that would upset me.
  • Labelling: Attaching a negative label to yourself or others following a single event.
    • I didn’t stand up to my co-worker, I’m such a wimp!    Ÿ
      What an idiot, he couldn't even see that coming!
  • 1) Mind-Reading: Making negative assumptions about how people see you without evidence or factual support.

    Your friend is preoccupied and you don’t bother to find out why. You’re thinking:

  • She thinks I’m exaggerating again or    Ÿ He still hasn’t forgiven me for telling Fred about his illness.

2) Fortune Telling: Making negative predictions about the future without evidence or factual support

  • I won’t be able to sell my house and I’ll be stuck here (even though housing market is good).
  • No-one will understand.
    I won’t be invited back again (even though they are supportive friends).
  • Discounting the Positive: Not acknowledging the positive. Saying anyone could have done it or insisting that your positive actions, qualities or achievements don’t count…
    • That doesn’t count, anyone could have done it.
    • I’ve only cut back from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to 10. It doesn’t count because I’ve not fully given up yet.
  • Blame & Personalization:    Blaming yourself when you weren’t entirely responsible or blaming other people and denying your role in the situation
    • If only I was younger, I would have got the job
    • If only hadn’t said that, they wouldn’t have…
    • If only she hadn’t yelled at me, I wouldn’t have been angry and wouldn’t have had that car accident.
  • Emotional Reasoning: I feel, therefore I am. Assuming that a feeling is true – without digging deeper to see if this is accurate.
    • I feel such an idiot (it must be true).        Ÿ I feel guilty (I must have done something wrong).
    • I feel really bad for yelling at my partner, I must be really selfish and inconsiderate.
  • Mental Filter: Allowing (dwelling on) one negative detail or fact to spoil our enjoyment, happiness, hope etc
    • You have a great evening and dinner at a restaurant with friends, but your chicken was undercooked and thatspoiled the whole evening.

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