Ten types to untwist cognitive distortions
Written by: Seada
Previously, we identified 11 universal cognitive distortions. All human beings have at some point in time, or another experienced one if not several cognitive distortions. We have searched for answers; inwardly and outwardly, to eliminate irrational thoughts. Fortunately, there are several antidotes to cognitive distortions!
Let’s begin to create change:
- Identify the distortion. “Think about your thinking.” Unmindful words shape our conversations, perspective, and emotions. Unmindful conversations are a developed habit that no longer benefits our well-being. To become aware, you may need to partake in the old method using pen-and-paper to record yourself.
- Examine it. Once you’ve recognized the distortion, apply one or two antidotes to reduce the use of the distortion. This practice takes times and mental effort to initiate. However, once the practice becomes natural, it no longer feels like work; and you’re one step closer to activating happiness. The process of examining involves asking yourself questions: how true is this thought? What evidence do I have to support or negate this thought? Am I overthinking the situation? What would a friend or coworkers say about this thought?
- Replace it with a rational thought. For this to work, the new rational thought must be more believable than the irrational thought. Has anyone told you to “stop being angry” when you’re angry? Has their advice ever worked? Probably not. If anything, it made you more upset. For old behaviors to come to an end; means that we need better, stronger, and convincible arguments to dictate rational behavior.
Untwisting cognitive distortions:
“All-or-nothing thinking”: Life does not operate from a black and white perspective. Ask yourself, “does one mistake genuinely define me as a failure?” Black-or-white thinking is irrational. Allow room for shades of grey to relieve you of stress and anxiety.
“Over-generalization”: The sky is not falling. Instead, one issue can feel so overwhelming that it feels like life is falling apart. The antidote here is to identify the specific problem and leave it at that.
“Mental filter”: for every negative thought, find two or three positive thoughts.
“Disqualifying the positive”: recognize the positive in every situation.
“Jumping to conclusions”: I always say I wish I had a magic wand to rid all of us of our pain; but, that’s jumping to conclusions! Seek evidence. Ask yourself “What is this person trying to convey?” “Am I hearing their statements accurately?” Examining the evidence and asking thoughtful questions builds a bridge to conclusions.
“Magnification or minimization”: how would you advise a friend who has similar faults or mistakes?
“Emotional reasoning”: our feelings are just that, feelings. They have no objectivity. Our emotions are solely subjective.
“Should” statements: change your statements to “I want to.” When we start a statement with “want” as opposed to “should” it sounds less of a chore and more of a desire.
“Labelling”: insert self-debate: “does a mistake truly mean I am stupid?”
“Personalization”: Look for the evidence. Realistically, what could you have done to change the outcome?
“With practice, you can work towards replacing the first automatic thought you had with a rational thought, and over some time that automatic thought can start to change.”