Consider the following questions- do you often blame yourself? Do you make conclusions based on past events? Do you only focus on the negatives? Do you often put pressure on yourself? If you answered yes to most of the questions, then you might be engaging in cognitive distortions.
What are Cognitive Distortions?
Cognitive distortions are faulty irrational and inaccurate thoughts and beliefs that include negative self-talk. Cognitive distortions are habitual and develop over time. They are automatic cognitions that are not based on facts. They occur due to an internal or external event leading to emotional and behavioral responses. Cognitive distortions can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. They can lead to the formation of a distorted reality. They can cause relationship concerns and conflicts. They can also decrease self-esteem and self-worth and can result in self-defeating behaviors.
The following are a few types of cognitive distortions:
• Overgeneralization- making conclusions for the future based on a single past event.
• Jumping to conclusions- assuming that a person would react in a specific manner.
• Personalization- blaming the self by disregarding several other factors.
• Disqualifying the positives- ignoring the positives and focusing on the negatives.
• Should/Must statements- thinking of how things should or must take place.
• Filtering- solely focusing on the negative aspects of an event or experience.
It is common to engage in cognitive distortions, but they are fixable!
Here are some interventions that one can follow to identify and alter irrational thoughts.
1- The ABC model- ABC model is a framework for altering irrational thoughts by challenging beliefs and assumptions. The model comprises of 3 components: A meaning activating event, B meaning beliefs (/thoughts) associated with the event, and C meaning consequences including behaviors and emotions. The model helps in identifying and
naming the events and beliefs leading to negative consequences. The ABC model aims to help individuals look at the bigger picture, identify their irrational thoughts, and reevaluate beliefs to form positive consequences.
2- Fact V.S. Opinion- make a list of sentences or thoughts based on your beliefs and opinions. For instance, I am not worthy, or I am a failure. Now, decide whether each listed belief is a fact or an opinion.
3- Practice Mindfulness- inhale and exhale. Deep breathing can help regulate the nervous system and focus on the body. Mindfulness can help decrease obsessive thinking. Relaxing the brain and the muscles can also help in bringing attention to the “here and now” instead of being in the past or the present.
4- Therapy- discussing your thoughts with a therapist can help you gain insights and aid in changing and reframing distortions. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is talk therapy that mostly focuses on thought patterns that are destructive, faulty, and maladaptive. It can specifically be helpful in decreasing negative self-talk.
Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Here.
Connect to one of our therapists to help you challenge your thoughts.