Distorted Thinking and How to Overcome it

Distorted Thinking and How to Overcome it

We all strive to live a healthy and happy life, right? So, what if I told you that your brain contributes over 80% of your happiness and health. Regardless of the situation that we find ourselves in, we always have the power and ability to determine our attitude. This ability lies in our Distorted thinking patterns.

However, our brains can at times be flooded with inflated and inaccurate thoughts or beliefs that distort our perception of reality. These inaccurate thoughts and beliefs usually reinforce negative thinking and emotions. Psychologists refer the situation as cognitive distortions.

Cognitive distortion is very common to us humans, and it can be difficult to recognise since it usually hides behind normal thoughts. If not controlled, it carries serious health risks on a person’s mental health such as increased stress, depression, and anxiety. As a result, cognitive distortions may negatively influence someone’s rational and logical way of making decisions.

The facts and risks associated with cognitive distortions attract our full attention and brings us to our passion for helping people with any form of cognitive distortion. We have got professional counsellors who are equipped with CBT and are much dedicated and willing to serve you. So, feel free to reach us anytime you need help.

Moreover, we have created a guide for the individuals who want to recognise cognitive distortions and improve their mental health. It pertains a list of 10 common examples of cognitive distortions that distort the perception of many people’s reality.

i. Black and White Thinking

Black and white thinking pattern is common among guys suffering from cognitive distortions and is sometimes referred to as all-or-nothing thinking. In this thinking pattern, there is no middle ground, and the answer will either be black or white. A person with white and black thinking typically sees things either right or wrong, good or bad, all or nothing.

By seeing only two possible outcomes, the individual fails to recognize that there are always several shades of gray in between black and white. This makes the individuals see themselves as a total failure when things turn black. Nevertheless, it is much possible to conquer the black and white thinking; start by initiating self-compassion when you encounter difficulties. Try and see all the positive and possible outcomes that are likely to happen.

ii. Disqualifying the Positive

Second on our list is disqualifying the positive. In this form of cognitive distortion, an individual disqualifies the positive about an event or performance and dwells only on the negative aspects. People suffering from this type of distortion will disregard any compliment or positive reinforcement coming their way.

Have in mind that some of these forms of cognitive distortions sound similar, but there are understated differences. For instance, disqualifying the positive can be seen to be same as black and white thinking, right? Disqualifying the positive may result to sad consequences such as rejecting people who really want to keep in touch. To overcome this type of distortion, we advise you
always share your mind and doubt with potential people who will help you realize the positive side.

iii. Filtering

This cognitive distortion is much similar to disqualifying the positive. Filtering occurs when someone mentally filters out all the positive aspects of a situation or experience, remaining with the negative thoughts. After filtering the positive aspects and possibilities, the individual now dwells on the negative side, seeing nothing positive about the situation. As a result, the person’s vision of reality is darkened and distorted.

Example of filtering distortion is whereby you dwell on the things you did not achieve in a certain day and fail to count on the things you were able to do on that particular day. That is mentally filtering your experience and can bleak your vision of reality. To counter this type of distortion, always give and maintain a room for positive aspects and thoughts of the situation or experience.

iv. Overgeneralization

As the name suggests, overgeneralization distortion is whereby a person draws a general conclusion that the whole situation is a failure or negative situation just because a single incident concerning the situation has gone wrong. Also, overgeneralization occurs when something unpleasant happens, and the individual generalizes that it will happen again and again. A good example of overgeneralization is when a student does not perform well in the first paper, and therefore he/she makes a general conclusion that he will also fail in the
coming papers.

We can conclude overgeneralization and say that this distortion occurs when conclusions are made based on a single occurrence or a piece of evidence. To overcome overgeneralization, try and convince yourself that because a single situation has gone wrong, it doesn’t mean that it will happen again or it will always be that way. Don’t let your mind make uncooked conclusions based on a single situation or evidence.

v. Personalization

Personalization is a thinking pattern common in most people and especially those suffering from chronic illness. A person engaged in this type of distortion tends to take matters personally in such a way that they associate things that other people say or do as a result of their own doing. Personalization causes someone to blame himself or herself for circumstances that are out of the person’s control.

People suffering from personalization see themselves as the cause of the unhealthy situation that they were not in control and were not responsible for.

Personalization is a major trigger for self-blame. To counter this type of cognitive distortion, put into perspective what you can control in your life. Another thing, have in mind that you cannot control what other people think or feel about a situation.

vi. Catastrophizing

It is also known as magnifying. In this type of distorted thinking, the importance of a situation that is happening or a situation that did not go as you planned is exaggerated and magnified. As a result, everything is blown out of proportion. This type of cognitive distortion is the real-life version of the saying that goes” making a mountain out of a molehill”.

Example of catastrophizing is when you are sick, and instead of waiting to see whether the symptoms will subside in the next couple of hours, you start thinking and convincing yourself that you are not going to be well anytime soon and that is your new normal.

For you to successfully defeat catastrophizing thinking distortion, put your situation or experience into perspective.

vii. Jumping to Conclusions

This is a type of cognitive distortion where a person jumps to negative conclusions and interpretations. This distorted thinking is sometimes referred to as “mind-reading error”. When jumping to conclusions, the negative interpretations that the person sees and concludes are rarely supported by facts.

Even before someone says something, an individual jumping to conclusions is convinced to know what the person is feeling and the reason he or she is acting the way they do. This distorted thinking is much similar to personalisation since the individual concludes to know what other people are feeling towards them.

To overcome this type of cognitive distortion, having a “don’t-know mind” will help you not to jump to conclusions. Also, let your conclusions be backed up with solid and tangible evidence. Try not to be convinced by facts that you are not sure of.

viii. Blaming

Blaming is the opposite of personalization. Here, the engaged individual sees everything as a fault of other people. He or she holds other people responsible for their pain or when something goes wrong; they put all the blame on someone else or something. For instance, someone may blame another person for feeling bad.

To conquer this type of cognitive distortion, understand and put into perspective that only you are responsible for your emotions and reactions. Feeling sad and furious for a long period is one’s choice.

ix. Using the “Should” Statement

With this type of cognitive distortion, the engaged persons try to motivate and comfort themselves mentally and physically using statements with `should’, `shouldn’t’, `ought’, and `must’. These words are implanted in a statement to give room for self-blame and negative self-judgment. Using the should statement is a cognitive distortion that induces feelings of guilt and even shame.

For example statements like “I should have apologised for my behavior” or “I must lose weight to get a husband” persuades negative feelings concerning the situation but in turn tries to comfort the person.

x. Emotional Reasoning

Emotional reasoning is mistaking one’s feeling for reality. Someone believes that what they feel must be automatically true. The person’s emotions become a reflection of the reality. For instance, individuals suffering from emotional reasoning become foolish when they feel foolish.

This type of cognitive distortion may manifest unreal things or become an obsessive compulsion. For example, a person may feel dirty even after showing twice in the last few hours. To counter this type of distorted thinking, refuse to accept your emotions as proof and reality of whom you are.

Final Thoughts

After discussing the common types of cognitive distortions that affect many people and in particular those who suffer from chronic illness, I believe you have the full capability to change distorted thinking patterns and curb cognitive distortions. That is just a highlight of what we do, our professional counsellors have got much to share with you. Don’t be left out, contact us today and begin your journey to a healthy and happy life.

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