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Am I my thoughts? How Cognitive Distortions impact your daily life.

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Is your braining telling you the truth? Hmmm, probably not as much, or as often as you might imagine. We see. We hear. We take in masses of information daily. Our brain naturally craves solutions to problems and so we ruminate, make up stories — lots and lots of stories. If one story doesn’t “fit”, we try on another and another until we can settle the anxiety that not knowing can bring.

There’s a whole host of cognitive distortions that give way to frequent distorted thinking. And the worst part? We don’t even know we are doing it.

So, how do you know when you are in trapped in a distorted thought process? Most negative thinking is related to one or more cognitive distortions. We are wired to see things as more negative than they are. This is not to say that everything is always peachy, but life is not as black (or white) as we see it. Once you begin to see things from an all or nothing, black or white perspective, it’s a slippery slope down a big black hole. And it permeates all aspects of our lives. You see yourself negatively, you see people negatively and in the worst case, the whole world as a negative space to live and be in.

Do you engage in distorted thinking? Yup! We all do. It’s an easy ride to take. When things aren’t going the way we would like, we get on and just go. But it’s not as grim as it sounds because you can go after those negative thoughts, see them for what they are and work to make the shift to a greyer version of the experience and your reaction to it.

Fixing cognitive distortions is possible — it just first requires you to identify your negative thoughts for what they are. Thoughts and feelings but not truth.

Once you do, you may learn that it’s typically not the situation that upsets you, but rather the thoughts or opinions about it.

And you can change your thoughts and opinions.

Almost all negative thinking is linked to these distortions.

  • Read yourself – Am I in a negative frame of mind?

  • Look at the list of cognitive distortions and circle the ones you are living

  • Change roles – Be the friend and ask yourself what you would tell someone else.

  • Examine the evidence

  • Sum of its parts

  • Skip generalizations

  • Avoid speculations

  • No more “shoulds”

  • Is there a benefit to the distortion? How does it serve you?

Practice identifying your distorted thinking and then collect the evidence. Ask yourself if the evidence supports all those negative thoughts. Now visualize the mid zone — maybe not perfect but most often not as black as your mind is tricking you into thinking and feeling.

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