Types of distortions

Self-sabotaging thoughts are often cognitive distortions, untrue views of the world. This term comes from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which is considered one of the most effective ways to overcome addictions, depression and many other types of unwellness. CBT works directly with thoughts, helping the patients to identify patterns which could hurt them. Learning about types of distortions can help to label thoughts as they arise and dissociate from them faster.

Catastrophizing 

over-exaggerating the outcomes of something as catastrophic, when in reality they are not

Black & White thinking 

thinking there are only two possible outcomes – either very good or very bad. No middle ground is accepted. 

Magnification 

picking the worst details in a situation and directing the whole attention to them, deliberately ignoring all the good, even when there are more positives.  

Personalization 

belief that all the actions and words of people around are directed at the person. Whatever happens is because everyone has making the person feel bad as their priority, which is virtually never true. 

Labeling 

assigning a label to a person or ourselves based on one small thing. For example, missing deadline at work caused assigning the label of incompetent. This one is similar to magnification but directed at oneself.

Have you noticed any of these patterns? Do you have beliefs that would suggest any of the behaviors above? These are not all cognitive distortions, there are many more, but there are the most common ones, and many people experience them.

Once you catch yourself thinking, for example, that if you don’t get the best results in something, you are a loser, just notice “Oh, here it is black & white thinking. There are so many other outcomes between being being the best and being a loser. And none of them means that I am closer to the latter one”.

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