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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.


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The key to happiness is meeting our needs. Not meeting our needs can be a sign of co-dependency, or it can be a sign of low self-esteem. It is not easy for us to understand what we want or what we need. When we cannot identify our needs and wants, we cannot fulfill our needs and wants. At times, co-dependent people may be very attuned to the needs and desires of other people and can even think about fulfilling and anticipating their needs and wants. When this happens, we lose the connection to our own needs and wants.

This can start in childhood when our needs were ignored or shamed. It was important that we had to adapt to the needs of our parents and other adults like teachers, older siblings, relatives or friends. In some cases, the adults and peers in our lives were physically or mentally ill, addicted, or just emotionally or physically unavailable to us. For some of us, to survive our childhood and teen years, we had to adapt to the wants and expectations of a selfish or controlling parent. Some of our friends may also have been selfish or controlling. Over time, we started to lose interest in things that were important to us because we wanted to avoid being disappointed or shamed for not getting our needs met. We put our needs on the back burner or just moved on without them.

Why Meeting Needs Matter

The reason it’s important to satisfy our needs is that we feel emotional pain when they’re not met. We may even forget what we need or what made us happy in the past. For example, I was happy when I went swimming every day. I felt safe when I was able to read mystery novels in my room.

Take some time this weekend to review your needs inventory sheet and write down five things you need. Then list what you want to do to meet those needs. Remember, we may have to stretch ourselves and put ourselves out of our comfort zone, which is okay. If you do not have a Needs Inventory please use Google to find one.

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Taking a Breath to Reduce Stress

Why is our breath important? It is an inner resource that we barely or never think about. It connects us to our bodies. For example, when we become anxious, our breath becomes shorter. Without knowing it, we hold our breath when we start moving down to the middle of the ladder or the sympathetic system within our autonomic nervous system. We lose the vision of how we see the world and where we are within the world in the moment. I wrote an article discussing this titled Up and Down the Ladder. Please let me know if you want a copy of this article.

It is possible to reconnect to your body when you are anxious, depressed or stressed if you do breathwork. There are exercises you can do to help you stay connected to your breath. It is best to do your breathwork every day to build up a shelf-life or storage of calmness in the body that you can use when you are overtaxed at work and home. Keeping your breath flowing freely will help you to be able to calm down, keep yourself in the here and now, and work through stressful situations.

Tai Chi is an excellent way to help you to connect to your breath. It is a very slow, flowing, moving meditation that enables you to focus on your mind and body. You can add breathwork in between the movements. Tai Chi can be learned and practiced by sitting, standing, and moving. You move your arms, hands, and body as you reduce tension and lower stress.

Instructions for Tai Chi form Open and Close the Door

You can do this exercise either standing or sitting. Take a deep breath in slowly. When you breathe in your lower abdomen goes out. Hold the breath for the count of 4. Breath out slowly. When your breath out, your lower abdomen goes in.

Relax your shoulders,

Relax your chest and arms,

Relax your stomach, hips and thighs, legs, ankles, and feet.

Raise your arms up slowly out in front of you with your palms facing down to the height of your shoulders. Keep your body relaxed. Breath in and out as you were taught earlier and keep your body relaxed.

Bring your elbows slowly into your chest.

Lower your arms to your sides leading with the heels of your hands.

Take a breath and relax.

Raise your arms slowly. As you raise your arms you are bring up all of the positive things you want to bring into your world today. Your intention for the day is to focus on the positive things you want in your life today. You raise up happiness, joy, kindness, self-love and safety.

Now, it is time to lower your arms. As you lower your arms, you release all of the negative things in your life right now.

Release your stress, negative thoughts, trauma, anxiety, sadness, and regrets. Imagine all of the negative things in your life floating away as you lower your hands. Take a deep breath. With every breath in imagine taking in all the good things that you want to happen for you today. With every breath out, imagine releasing all of the negative things that have happened to you on this day.

Let this exercise allow you to be comfortable with who you are and to have confidence that you will have a good day today.

How can you use this article to reduce stress?

How can you add this Tai Chi form to your daily self-care routine?

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