This week I want to present a Checklist of Cognitive Distortions for you to review. What are Cognitive Distortions? Cognitive distortions are the different negative thoughts you repeatedly have about your past, future, or things that are currently going on in your life. Sometimes when we have these thoughts repeatedly, they become habits. These habits can cause low self-esteem, poor relationships, anxiety, depression, and stress. How many of these distortions do you have? Please send me your comments after you review this article and links to the two articles below.
Checklist of Cognitive Distortions
All-or-nothing thinking: You look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.
Overgeneralization: You review a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
Mental Filter: You dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.
Discounting the positives: You insist that your accomplishments or positive qualities don't count.
Jumping to conclusions: (A) Mind reading- you assume that people are reacting negatively to you when there's no definite evidence for this; (B) Fortune telling- you arbitrarily predict things will turn out badly.
Magnification or Minimization: You blow things way out of proportion, or you shrink their importance inappropriately.
Emotional Reasoning: You reason from how you feel: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one. “ Or ”I don't feel like doing this, so I'll put it off.”
Should Statements: You criticize yourself or other people with “Shoulds” or “Shouldn't.” “ Musts,” “Oughts,” and “ Have to's” are similar offenders.
Labeling: you identify with your shortcomings. instead of saying I made a mistake, you tell yourself, “I'm a jerk,” or “a fool,” or “I'm a loser”.
Personalization and Blame: You blame yourself for something you weren't entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook ways that your own attitudes and behavior might contribute to a problem.
Source: David D Burns, M.D., Adapted from Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (New York: William Morrow & Company, 1980; Signit, 1981)
Please make copies of the list and place it in different rooms in your home and at your desk. When you have a negative thought, use the list to help you identify it and think your way through it. For example, this is just labeling. Next, change the negative label to a positive label.
Here are articles on changing negative thoughts using CBT.