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Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive Distortions


ALL OR NOTHING THINKING

You see things in black and white.  Such as, all aspects of a project need to be completed immediately, or if your performance falls short of perfect, you see it as a total failure.

OVERGENERALIZATION

You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern.

MENTAL FILTER

You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened (like the drop of ink that discolors the entire bleaker of water).

DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE

You rejects positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other.  In this way, you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusions.

   MIND READING

You arbitrarily conclude that some is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check it out.

   FORTUNE TELLING

You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel that your prediction is a pre-determined fact.

MAGNIFICATION/MINIMIZATION

You exaggerate the importance of things (your mistake or someone else’s achievement).  You inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or other’s imperfections).

CATASTROPHIZING

You attribute extreme and horrible consequences to the outcomes of events.  One mistake at work = being fired from our job.

EMOTIONAL REASONING

You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are.  “I feel it, so it must be true.”

“SHOULD” STATEMENTS

You try to motivate yourself with “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”, as if you need to be punished before you could be expected to do anything.  When directed toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

LABELING AND MISLABELING

This is an extreme form of overgeneralization.  Instead of describing an error, you attach a negative label to yourself or others.

PERSONALIZATION

You see negative events as indicative fo some negative characteristic of yourself or others, or you take responsibility for events that were not your doing.

MALADAPTIVE THINKING

You focus on a thought that may be true but over which you have no control.  Excessively thinking about it can self-critical, or distract you from an important task or from attempting new behaviors.

Quoted from Source:  Loose-Leaf handout in Individual Therapy Session
“This list is from Heimberg (1991), with slight modifications.
Heimberg (1991) was originally based on Burns (1980) and Persons (1989)”

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