Cognitive Distortions
The words we use in our daily life influence our experiences. When we use words to try to express our thoughts and ideas as well as to describe what we see, sometimes our meaning and intention get lost in translation.

We lose information through generalizations, deletions of information and cognitive distortion. Distortion is where some aspects of ideas and experiences are given more weight and focus than others. We all do this both consciously and unconsciously, and how we do this provides clues to our underlying beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world.

Which of the following cognitive distortions do you do? Check the areas below that apply to you. Let me know if you would like to discuss this exercise, your thoughts, your insights, and of course, any questions you may have about it.
All or Nothing Thinking: Seeing things as black-or-white, right-or-wrong with nothing in between. For example: 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; They didn't show up so they're completely unreliable.
Overgeneralization: Using words like always or never in relation to a single event or experience. For example: I'll never get that promotion; She always criticizes me.
Catastrophizing: Seeing things as dramatically more or less important than they actually are. Often creating a "catastrophe." For example: Because my teacher praised me in front of the whole class, everyone will hate me and think I'm a show off and teacher's pet, and I'll never make any friends or get asked to the prom; I forgot to send that report before leaving work, so my boss will be angry and never trust me again, and I will never get that promotion.
Shoulds: Using "should," "need to," "must," "ought to," to motivate yourself, then feeling guilty when you don't follow through, or feeling angry or resentful when someone else doesn't follow through. For example: I should have gotten that project done this week; They should have known their actions would upset me. How inconsiderate of them!
Labeling: Attaching a negative label to yourself or others following a single event. For example: He's is so chicken, he couldn't apology for breaking the neighbor's window, he had to get his mother to do it for him. I'm such a wimp, I didn't stand up for myself at the meeting.
Mind-Reading: Making negative assumptions about how people see you without evidence. For example: Your friend is preoccupied and you don't bother to ask why, so you think she thinks you are exaggerating; Your friend has turned down the last two times you have asked him to hang out with you. You don't clarify the reason why, but instead you think he still hasn't forgiven you for letting the cat out of the bag accidentally to his girlfriend that he went away for a weekend with the boys when he had told her he was attending a conference for work.
Fortune Telling: Making negative predictions about the future without evidence. For example: I won't be able to sell my house and I'll be stuck here (even though the housing market is good); She won't understand that I can't go to her party and she won't invite me again.
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. For example: That doesn't count, anyone could have done it; I've only cut back on smoking. It doesn't count because I haven't fully given it up yet.
Blame and Personalization: Blaming yourself when you weren't entirely responsible or blaming other people and denying your role in the situation. For example: If only I was younger, I would be able to go back to school for my master's degree; If only she would have taken education seriously and gotten a good job, we wouldn't be in the financial mess we're in now.
Clear selection
Emotional Reasoning: I feel, therefore I am. Assuming that a feeling is true, without digging deeper to see if this is accurate. For example: I feel guilty so I must have done something wrong; I must be the most inconsiderate person since I yelled at my husband.
Mental Filter: Dwelling on one negative detail or fact and letting it spoil your enjoyment, happiness, hope, etc. For example: You have a great evening and dinner at a restaurant with friends, but your chicken was undercooked and that spoiled the whole evening.
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