Cognitive Distortions
Put a checkmark next to the ones that have been a problem for you at some point.
Cognitive distortions are irrational thoughts that can influence your emotions. Everyone experiences cognitive distortions to some degree, but in their more extreme forms they can be harmful.
Magnification and Minimization: Exaggerating or minimizing the importance of events. You use words such as huge, impossible or overwhelming. One might believe their own achievements are unimportant, or that their mistakes are excessively important. You are really bothered by a comment or criticism and can’t stop thinking about it.
Catastrophizing: Seeing only the worst possible outcomes of a situation. “If I gained weight today, I’ll just keep gaining and gaining.”, “What if I don’t get into university?” “I don’t think I could handle it if someone saw me sweating.
Overgeneralization: Making broad interpretations from a single or few events. You use absolute words such as “all, every, none, never, always, everybody, nobody.”, “No one would stay friends with me if they really knew me.” “I always screw up.” “Everyone thinks I’m .”
Magical Thinking: The belief that acts will influence unrelated situations. “I am a good person—bad things shouldn’t happen to me.”
Personalization: The belief that one is responsible for events outside of their own control. “My mom is always upset. She would be fine if I did more to help her.” “She is smarter (or more competent, better looking, etc.) than I am.”, Your team loses and you think “It’s all my fault that we lost.”
Jumping to Conclusions: Interpreting the meaning of a situation with little or no evidence.
Mind Reading: Interpreting the thoughts and beliefs of others without adequate evidence. “Nobody likes me, they think I’m .”He didn’t say hello, he must hate me.”
Fortune Telling: The expectation that a situation will turn out badly without adequate evidence. You think “I know I’m going to fail that test”, even when you have been studying and the chances of failing are low.
Emotional Reasoning: The assumption that emotions reflect the way things really are. “I feel like a bad friend, therefore I must be a bad friend.” You feel tired and unhappy, so you think “My life totally sucks”.
Disqualifying the Positive: Recognizing only the negative aspects of a situation while ignoring the positive. One might receive many compliments on an evaluation, but focus on the single piece of negative feedback.
“Should” Statements: The belief that things should be a certain way. “I should always be friendly.”
All-or-Nothing Thinking: Thinking in absolutes such as “always”, “never”, or “every”. “I never do a good enough job on anything.”
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