For those unfamiliar with the term, a cognitive distortion (CD) is a type of negative thought. There are many categories of CDs and when I do CBT work with my clients I try to have them understand which ones they engage in most often. The first step of changing behavior is to build awareness, so understanding your favorite kinds of poisonous thoughts is a good start. Let’s go over examples of common distortions in a fun and unconventional manner. Take a seat, class is in session!
- Overgeneralization: My uncle threw a hot dog at my girlfriend during our last family barbeque. Every family barbeque I attend will be terrible and will end with me being single.
- Mental Filtering: “I hate yellow M&Ms. Why is there a yellow M&M in this giant bag of tasty treats?!” – Angry trick or treater
- All or Nothing Thinking: “If you don’t want to marry me then you must want me to die a lonely, sad, horrible death”. *Date goes to the bathroom, slips out the back door and never returns*
- Jumping to Conclusions: “My presentation is going to be a disaster. I won’t be able to imagine everyone in their underwear for 10 minutes straight!”
- Catastrophizing: “What if I add my email to Daniel’s mailing list and the emails he sends spread a virus in my computer and hack all of my personal information and he steals my identity and I am no longer myself because he has become me?!” *I assure you this will never happen. You can join my mailing list with peace of mind*
- Should statements: “I should’ve never said could’ve, I would’ve never done it if I would’ve known how I should’ve said it to begin with”
- Labeling: “I’m a loser”. I could not think of a funny way to do this so this is a legitimate example. Negative labels are bad for the soul.
- Personalization: “Did you hear that person say that green is not a creative color? I’m wearing green shoes, that person must be talking about me!”
I consider should statements to be my poison. I should really work on that. Which distortion is yours? If it is not listed, let me know what it is down below! You can also provide fun and unusual examples. And seriously, my mailing list is safe and a great resource for future content, please join it.